NEW YORK (Jun. 17)
Editors of major Christian and Jewish publications and theologians agreed at a conference last week that the viability of Israel depends not alone on a political solution but on an understanding and support of Christians in the United States. There was general agreement among the 60 participant that Christians and Jews working together in the framework of the shared Judea-Christian values could do much to resolve the numerous dilemmas relating to an understanding of Israel, including such questions as Jerusalem and the Palestinians.
The meeting was sponsored by the Synagogue Council of America, the umbrella agency of national congregational and rabbinic bodies in this country, representing the three branches of Judaism and the three rabbinic journals “Tradition” (Orthodox); “Conservative Judaism” and “The CCAR Journal” (Reform).
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, president of the American Jewish Congress, an adjunct professor of history at Columbia University, sounded the keynote of the conference when he maintained that a fundamental divergence in the theology of Christians and Jews lies at the heart “of our misunderstanding.” He said “Judaism emphasizes the community as the agent of God’s salvation. That is precisely where Christianity differs since it emphasizes the salvation of the individuals. The importance of Israel to Jews can only be understood in the light of the importance it places on the existence of the community.” He said “the ultimate residue of our problem is with each other.”
Rev. Malcolm Boyd, a prominent author and Episcopal theologian, flatly told the group “the future of Israel will be determined by non-Jews in the United States. There has to be a Jewish State.” he declared, “and there has to be a Palestinian state. In Israel, everybody accepts it, and this has to be the price of peaceful coexistence.”