UNITED SYNAGOGUE CANCELS PARTICIPATION
IN CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE
AFTER PROTESTANT MEMBERS ACCUSE ISRAEL
OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Rabbi Steven Wernick Terms Allegation “Morally Misguided”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Shira Dicker
October 17, 2012 (New York, NY) – After Christian groups sent a letter to the United States Congress that he characterized as “repugnant, regrettable and morally misguided,” Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) announced today that his organization was canceling its participation in next week’s meeting of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable, scheduled to take place at the offices of the American Jewish Committee in New York City.
The letter, signed by many Protestant members of the Roundtable and sent to Congress two weeks ago, called for an investigation into U.S. military aid to Israel in the face of alleged human rights violations by the Israel Defense Forces. In cancelling the meeting, USCJ is joined by other Jewish groups including the American Jewish Committee; B’nai B’rith International; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; the Rabbinical Assembly and the Union for Reform Judaism
“In addition to being completely baseless, this letter demonstrates that all of our work, all of our dialogue, all of our goodwill and all of our Protestant partners’ pledges of commitment to coexistence amount to very little if such a letter can be sent to Congress without even the courtesy of a heads-up,” said Rabbi Wernick. “As brazen acts of atrocity take place across the globe and the Israeli military – acting in a defensive capacity – is singled out for accusations of human rights violations, the accusers are guilty of imposing a dangerous double standard to the Jewish State.”
Created in 2004 with the aim of bringing Jewish and Christian leaders together during a period of rapid disintegration in relations, owing to differing views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Christian-Jewish Roundtable has been an important venue for dialogue across denominational lines.
“It is deeply regrettable that this effort failed to achieve its basic goal,” added Rabbi Wernick. “Should the Protestant members of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable decide to have a more constructive approach to this issue, we will be the first ones to join them at the table.”
A copy of the letter signed by the USCJ and other Jewish groups and sent to the Christian Partners in the Christian-Jewish Roundtable is appended below.
For further information on Rabbi Steven Wernick’s statement or the cancellation of next week’s Christian-Jewish Roundtable, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 917.403.3989.
Dear Christian Partners in the Christian-Jewish Roundtable:
The Christian-Jewish Roundtable was created in 2004 to bring Jewish and Christian leaders together during a period of rapid disintegration in relations. Members of the Jewish organizations were profoundly disturbed by divestment and other anti-Israel actions. Members of the Christian organizations were frustrated by a lack of progress toward a two-state solution. Against the backdrop of important partnerships on a range of shared concerns and close ties at the community level, the Roundtable sought to deepen national relationships and to open lines of communication. There have been important and positive results. However, each side has also expressed a continued disappointment in how its core concerns have been addressed.
The Roundtable was next set to meet on October 22-23.In advance of the meeting, the leaders of most of the Christian institutions that participate in the Roundtable sent a public letter to Congress calling for investigation of U.S. military aid to Israel in light of alleged Israeli human rights violations. Jewish organizations have responded with statements expressing umbrage at the content of the letter, the antipathy to Israel it represents, and the lack of communication to Jewish partners in advance of the letter’s release.
While we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach. In lieu of the forthcoming Roundtable, and because we believe that there is value to the work done through interfaith relations, we are calling for a meeting with the senior leadership of our agencies and the senior leadership of the Christian institutions that joined the letter to Congress and have participated in the Roundtable in the past. The purpose of the meeting would be to communicate face-to-face at the highest levels and determine a more positive path forward for our communities.
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
B’nai B’rith International (BBI)
Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
Rabbinical Assembly (RA)
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ)