1,200 rabbis sign onto anti-divestment plea to churches

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Some 1,200 U.S. rabbis have signed on to a letter appealing to Christian churches not to divest from Israel.

"We understand and respect your calling to invest in a morally responsible manner," said the letter, which was launched two weeks ago. "A policy of divestment to pressure Israel runs counter to these goals. Such a one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades. It promotes a lopsided assessment of the causes of and solutions to the conflict, disregarding the complex history and geopolitics. Furthermore, it shamefully paints Israel as a pariah nation, solely responsible for frustrating peace."

The letter was timed to be sent to the delegates attending the Methodist Church’s quadrennial general conference taking place next week in Tampa, Fla., as well as the delegates to a Presbyterian Church (USA) conference in Pittsburgh in June.

Both conferences are considering divestment resolutions.

The rabbis are from all 50 states and represent the gamut of Jewish belief, including Orthodox, Chabad, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Spirituality movements. The signatories also represent a range of political views, including signatories affiliated with the liberal New Israel Fund.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups, helped to organize the letter.

"A letter signed by so many rabbis demonstrates the breadth and depth of the American Rabbinate’s commitment to the finding of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; something which cannot be achieved through divestment,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA’s president, who signed the letter. “Here is a clear rabbinic consensus — divestment efforts will tear the fabric of our interfaith relationships and undermine ongoing efforts for peace.”

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