(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League withdrew from participating in a national Jewish-Christian interfaith dialogue after church leaders asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel.
The ADL in a statement called the request "a serious breach of trust by mainline Protestant Church leaders" participating in the annual interfaith meeting, which will be held on Oct. 22.
The religious leaders from the Lutheran, Methodist and United Church of Christ churches, and the National Council of Churches sent a letter to Congress members on Oct. 8 calling for an investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. The violations would make Israel ineligible for U.S. military aid.
The letter also decried what it called "a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace," citing Israel’s failure to halt settlement activity despite repeated U.S. government requests.
“In light of the failure of any of the church leaders to reach out to us, we have decided not to attend this interfaith meeting,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director. “The blatant lack of sensitivity by the Protestant dialogue partners we had been planning to meet with has seriously damaged the foundation for mutual respect, which is essential for meaningful interfaith dialogue.
“It is outrageous that mere days after the Iranian president repeated his call for Israel’s elimination, these American Protestant leaders would launch a biased attack against the Jewish state by calling on Congress to investigate Israel’s use of foreign aid. In its clear bias against Israel, it is striking that their letter fails to also call for an investigation of Palestinian use of U.S. foreign aid, thus once again placing the blame entirely on Israel."
Foxman called on other Jewish organizations to "understand the level of disrespect the American Jewish community is being shown here" and to also withdraw from the conference.