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Groups blast Methodist Israel guide

Jewish groups blasted a Methodist study guide to Israel as riddled with inaccuracies and intemperate rhetoric.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a public-polcy umbrella body of local and national groups, this week published a 25-page deconstruction of “Israel-Palestine: A Study Mission for 2007-2008.”

“I was particularly distressed to see the conditions created by the birth of Israel called ‘original sin’ and to see Israelis characterized as ‘hysterical’ and ‘paranoiac,'” said Steve Gutow, JCPA’s executive director. “The quest for peace is not helped by those who demonize and distort.”

In separate statements, the Methodist study guide was also slammed by the Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith International.

B’nai B’rith called the report an “affront to Israel and Jews,” singling out passages from the guide that critique Jewish “obsessions” with the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and notes the United Methodist Church general conference in April, when the church will consider divestment from Israel.

“The report signals a profound misunderstanding of the situation in the Middle East,” B’nai B’rith said. “The fact that this criticism comes from the largest mainline Protestant denomination makes it all the more troubling.”

The church issued a statement defending the guide as “thoughtful.”

The author of the guide, Rev. Steven Goldstein, is the top mission official at the church. In personal history passages in the publication, he describes how he might have been described as a “self-hating Jew” prior to his conversion from Judaism to Christianity.

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