NEW YORK (Aug. 25)
Television evangelist Pat Robertson, responding Wednesday to a Jewish leader’s charge that he was reluctant to condemn anti-Semitism surrounding protests of “The Last Temptation of Christ,” claimed he had spoken out on the matter on his television program, “The 700 Club.”
Robertson’s response came as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith released copies of correspondence between ADL national director Abraham Foxman and Robertson.
In the letters, exchanged earlier this month, Robertson seemed to sidestep Foxman’s request that he “condemn and counsel” fundamentalist leaders who were injecting anti-Semitism into protests of the controversial Universal Pictures film.
Other national Christian groups renounced protestors who targeted the Jewish principals in the MCA conglomerate, which owns Universal.
Instead, Robertson suggested that ADL condemn the MCA corporation, whose chairman is Jewish, and “do everything you can” to prevent the movie’s release.
In his statement Wednesday, Robertson explained his stance by saying, “I was advising a dear personal friend of what I felt to be the most effective strategy in this particular situation to stop anti-Semitic rhetoric and sentiment about this film before it ever began.
“Had they done what I suggested,” continued Robertson, “it would have been a great move to solidify the rapport between Christians and Jews in America and further promote unity between us. I believe it would have knocked this thing in the head right away.”
Robertson concluded the statement by saying he “will always stand against anti-Semitism.”
SHOCKED AT LEAK
Robertson also said he was “shocked and disappointed” that confidential correspondence had been leaked to the press, a reference to the story’s appearance in The New York Times a day before ADL made the letters public.
Robertson said he was “grateful” to learn that Foxman did not leak the letters.
A spokeswoman for the Christian Broadcasting Network said the dates on which Robertson spoke out against the anti-Semitic protests were not included in the statement, and “we’re looking into that.”
She said the remarks came during the last month. The film was released Aug. 12.
Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate, is chairman of the network.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Foxman said he appreciated Robertson’s expressions of friendship and his suggestions, but added, “This was not a question of strategy. I don’t think that’s what I asked for or what’s called for. After 2,000 years of experience with anti-Semitism, what is necessary to limit it, to eradicate it, is a clear denunciation.”
Foxman said he would welcome any statements Robertson made on his television program, and appreciated Robertson saying he stands against anti-Semitism.
Foxman also denied leaking the letters, and said he would have notified Robertson had he planned to.