American Jewish Committee Disappointed in U.S. Christians Letter to Secretary Powell

July 3, 2001

July 3, 2001 -  NEW YORK -- The American Jewish Committee has contacted more than 20 American Christian leaders, criticizing as “one-side” a letter they had written to Secretary of State Colin Powell on the Israel-Palestinian crisis. The leaders of Christian denominations wrote their letter to Secretary Powell after they returned from a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority last month.

As a result of “identifying with those who perceive their immediate interests as part and parcel of the Palestinian national struggle, the delegation's letter reflects an unbalanced perspective on the conflict,” Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s director of international interreligious affairs, wrote to each of the American Christian leaders who signed the letter to Secretary Powell.

Given the fact that that many of the signatories have been AJC’s partners over the years in addressing a wide variety of issues, “we regret that the letter’s signatories did not engage us and other counterparts in the Jewish community so that we might share our information and perspective on an unfolding crisis that causes both of us great pain,” said Rabbi Rosen.

“We cannot fail to express our deep disappointment that a letter from individuals who share our commitment to peace and to a cessation of violence between Palestinians and Israelis would not only so one-sidedly condemn Israel for that continued conflict, but would do so after a Palestinian suicide bomber in Tel Aviv had slaughtered 20 young Israelis – and not see fit to make mention of that horrific act.”

The Christian leaders sent their letter to Secretary Powell on June 7.

Rabbi Rosen pointed out in his letter that the American Christian leaders made “no condemnation in the letter of the violent abuse of and perversion of religion contained in the encouragement and blessing of suicide terrorism by extremist Islamic leaders, including, shockingly, the Mufti of Jerusalem.”

The AJC letter also noted that the Christian leadership delegation’s itinerary in Israel and the Palestinian Authority-administered territory had included only token meetings with Israelis, and included no visits to any Israeli victims of this conflict.

“It might have been useful, as well as being a broad gesture of compassion, if the delegation had visited families of Israeli civilian victims of Palestinian terror as well, to see the destruction of life, limb and property that had elicited Israel’s controlled response,” wrote Rabbi Rosen.
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Contact: Kenneth Bandler (212) 891-6771

        Lisa Fingeret Roth (212) 891-1385

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