AJC Applauds Lutheran Rejection of Divestment Against Israel

August 23, 2005

August 23, 2005 - NEW YORK - The American Jewish Committee joins with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in its commitment to peace that “advocates for political solutions that address the rights to security and peace with justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.”


The ELCA has joined the growing ranks of mainline Protestant churches that reject boycotts as a means to bring peace.


In sharp contrast to the Presbyterian Church USA's on-going attempt to use economic sanctions that threaten the State of Israel and exacerbate anger and conflict, the ELCA has endorsed constructive engagement that will foster peace.


“The ELCA affirms again its commitment to a just two-state solution that would ensure a Palestinian state alongside a secure State of Israel,” stated David Elcott, U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee.


“The Church understands that, during this fragile moment of disengagement when there is renewed hope for the entire region, it is better to nurture peace than to threaten one party with sanctions.”


Palestinian Lutheran Bishop Younan, in a speech transmitted to the ELCA Assembly, called on the Church to be a bridge linking Israelis and Palestinians, and added “If Israel feels it has a need to build a wall (on the pre-1967 “green line”), we would understand it.”


The AJC endorses the right of Israel to secure its border and protect its citizens from terrorist attacks through construction of a security barrier that takes into account both Israel’s security considerations and Palestinian humanitarian needs.


“We find the ‘tear down the wall’ resolutions of the Presbyterian Church USA, the World Conference of Churches, Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ as being at best naïve, and at worst undermining Israel’s ability to protect its citizens -- Jews, Christians and Muslims. Sadly, the ELCA resolution fails to explicitly support the right of Israel to use a security barrier in its self defense. It is critical for mainline Protestants to show equal concern about the dislocation and suffering of Israeli citizens as it is to care for the Palestinians.


“The AJC looks forward to further engage our Protestant brothers and sisters in dialogue and advocacy for peace in the Holy Land that assures an independent democratic Palestinian state alongside a secure Jewish state of Israel,” Elcott said.


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