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New York Times Flacks for Jewish Groups Against 15 Major Christian Leaders

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This false premise is blending apples and oranges; nothing consistent about it.

A bit of history could be helpful here. When the modern state of Israel was created by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, the vote in the UN General Assembly was 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions. The General Assembly vote  was preceded by decades of dialogue within world Jewry. Many Jewish religious leaders reminded the Zionists in their midst that idolatry was prohibited by Scripture, citing the passage, "Thou shall  have no other God before me." (Exodus 20:3)

Zionism was a political movement that created a modern secular state. It did so through force of military arms and by the blatant exploitation of the horrors of the Holocaust. They called their new state a "Jewish state." That, however, is a secular ethnic designation, not a religious one. It also contradicts the foundation of a democracy, since at its formation the state contained a substantial number of non-Jews.

In the years leading up to 1947, there was considerable Jewish religious opposition to the creation of a secular state of Israel. The battle was between Zionists and non-Zionists. The biblical admonition that it is idolatry to equate a state with Yahweh, was ignored.

The 15 church leaders have declared that they believe it is their moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. The cancellation of an interfaith meeting by the Jewish Council of Public Affairs was a political move which the New York Times helped to promote.

The JCPA and it letter signers have no dogs in this hunt. They can be as outraged as they want. This is still a free country. But the 15 church leaders have made the right religious -- not political -- move. They are speaking the language of "moral responsibility" in a letter directed to the U.S. Congress on the matter of U.S. funds used by Israel to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.

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Interfaith dialogue has always been nothing more than a device used by American Jewish groups to intimidate the American churches into keeping the ecumenical deal. By this intimidation, these groups have followed the example set by the government of Israel which has long used the so-called "peace process" to sustain its occupation and expand its borders, always to the detriment of the Palestinian people.

It is the right time for the leaders of the American churches to make their moral demand to the Congress. With their letter, they have done so, courageously, considering the political climate of our time. Interfaith dialogue can wait.

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James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 

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