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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Conservative rabbis dismayed by Protestants’ call for investigation of aid to Israel

For immediate release: October 7, 2012
Contact: Samantha Friedman, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
Office: 202-265-3000 or cell: 202-215-9260 or

Conservative rabbis dismayed by Protestants' call for Congressional investigation of aid to Israel

NEW YORK – In response to a letter released Friday by a group of representatives of mainline Protestant groups, calling for Congressional investigations into all foreign aid to Israel on the basis that Israel has allegedly used it in violation of U.S. conditions, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international umbrella organization of Conservative rabbis, issued the following statement:

The Rabbinical Assembly unequivocally rejects the call of Protestant Christian leaders for reevaluation of foreign aid to Israel, and recommends that Members of Congress do so as well.

The letter calling for hearings and reassessment was issued without outreach to longtime partners in public advocacy within the Jewish community.  It was released on the eve of Shabbat, just before a long weekend of Jewish and American holidays.  And it was distributed at a time when Congress is out of session, in the midst of the general election campaign. 

We find these tactics to be disrespectful of channels of communication that have been constructed over decades, and an essential declaration of separation from the endeavor of interfaith consultation on matters of deep concern to the Jewish community.  Indeed, we find this breach of trust to be so egregious that we wonder if it may not warrant an examination on the part of the Jewish community at large of these partnerships and relationships that we understood ourselves to be working diligently to preserve and protect.

The substance of the letter demands a point-by-point response.  Our community is currently preparing such a document but will be delayed by the holy season that concludes this week.  Rabbi Jack Moline, Director of Public Policy of the Rabbinical Assembly stated: "At the moment, it is sufficient to say that Israel remains the only outpost of democracy and guaranteed human rights in the entire region, and America's only dependable ally in promoting the rights of free expression, freedom of religious conscience and practice, equal rights for people of either gender and all sexual orientations, and a political system that enables an unfettered exchange of ideas and peaceful transition of government based on the will of the people.  We fail to understand how, under the cloak of concern for human rights, the churches involved have elected to communicate such an unbalanced portrayal of the complex situation which Israel encounters daily, including a constant need to defend itself from attacks on its own people.  It would seem to belie an antagonism that stands in sharp contrast with the theological professions of their outreach to the Jewish community."

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, the Rabbinical Assembly's Director of Israel Advocacy, added, "Israel's readiness to pursue peace is not matched by the Palestinians, yet the document seeks to assign blame only to the Jewish state for the inability to progress in the quest for peace.  Moreover, to selectively invoke the representations of a Jewish organization for their own purposes is reprehensible."

The Rabbinical Assembly expresses its deep disappointment and dismay with the churches involved, who have seen fit to unilaterally release this document in disregard for our longstanding tradition of collaborative discussion on sensitive and complex matters.  We urge our members to express their concern to friends and colleagues who are associated with these denominations in their local communities.

The Rabbinical Assembly is the international association of Conservative rabbis. Since its founding in 1901, the Assembly has been the creative force shaping the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative movement, and is committed to building and strengthening the totality of Jewish life. Rabbis of the Assembly serve congregations throughout the world, and also work as educators, officers of communal service organizations, and college, hospital, and military chaplains.  More information is available at

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