Jewish groups upset with Presbyterians

NEW YORK (JTA) — Jewish groups are upset with recent actions by the Presbyterian Church USA regarding its Israel policies.

A report released March 11 by the church titled "Breaking Down the Walls" was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League as "a toxic mix of bad history, politically motivated distortions and offensive attacks on Judaism and Israel."

Other Jewish groups have lashed out at the Middle East Study Committee, which prepared the report, for failing to reach out to a broad range of Jewish leaders.

The Presbyterian Church USA has had a long and contentious history of treating Israel in a way most American Jewish leaders deem hostile and biased.

On the eve of a 2008 convention in which the Middle East was a hot topic, the church released a document on combating anti-Jewish sentiment that was condemned vigorously by an array of American Jewish organizations as perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes. Ultimately the convention yielded a statement embraced by major Jewish groups that promised evenhandedness in the treatment of Israel.

Among the objections raised to the latest report are that it legitimizes doubts about Israel’s legitimacy, draws parallels between the threats posed by suspected Iranian and Israeli nuclear arsenals, and calls on the United States to consider withholding foreign aid to Israel.

The report also names several liberal groups — J Street, B’Tselem and Jewish Voice for Peace — as demonstrating greater potential for working together "for a more just and secure Israel," The New York Jewish Week reported. Mainstream Jewish organizations, the church report says, do not oppose the occupation or Israel’s settlement policy.  

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