Interfaith Leader Hits Christian Failure to Speak out on Israel

The director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee told religious news writers this weekend that “the profound disparity in the respective responses of Jews and Christians to the plight of Israel during the days in which that Jewish community was threatened with extinction reveals that Christians and Jews are still separated by a great abyss of lack of mutual knowledge and understanding.”

Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum told the annual meeting of the Religious News writers Association that in future interfaith dialogues, Christians must understand “the profound historical, religious and liturgical meaning of the land of Israel and of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.”

The Jews recalled with gratitude the position taken by outstanding individuals, Catholic and Protestant, Rabbi Tanenbaum noted, but he said “the failure of the ‘diplomatic’ institutions of Christendom to speak an unequivocal word in defense of the preservation of the Jewish people will haunt the agenda of future Jewish-Christian dialogues for years to come.”

He said Jews would now be more responsive to the plight of the Arab refugees, “which has become such a preoccupation on the part of so many Christian institutions and leaders” and he urged Christian leaders also to be increasingly aware of the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries where Jews “are being subjected to ruthless persecution and oppression.”

He said pressure to internationalize all of Jerusalem would “intensify the politicalization of the present problems and increase the difficulties for peaceful settlement.” He said Christian leaders, including the Vatican, were concerned about assurance of freedom of access to the Holy Places and noted that Israel had already demonstrated that this “is a basic policy of its government.”

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