ADL Concerned at Accusation of "Jewish Pressure" In Controversy Over Presbyterian Church Policy
New York, NY, December 14, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has become increasingly concerned with outrageous rhetoric being employed by pro-Palestinian sympathizers of the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s decision to institute a policy of divestment against Israel. An American group has accused Jewish organizations of attempting to "intimidate the church" through a "McCarthyist vilification campaign," while the head of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon has termed the Church's decision to fire two top officials "scapegoating" to appease the Jewish community.
"It is outrageous that the Jewish community's effort to engage in dialogue with church officials is being portrayed by some groups as a 'Jewish pressure' campaign," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The canard of Jewish pressure and control has played a role throughout history in fomenting anti-Semitism and hate against Jews.
"We hope that the Presbyterian Church will change direction in its policy because it is the right thing to do, not because of some alleged Jewish pressure," added Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs.
In an open letter in the Wisconsin State Journal, Jennifer Loewenstein, the founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, expressed support for the Presbyterian Church and denounced what she termed the "hysterical and hate-filled mail that has flooded the Presbyterians' offices, often labeling its actions 'anti-Semitic' and 'Israel-bashing.' Having been on the receiving end of such tactics here in Madison," she wrote, "we condemn this McCarthyist vilification campaign whose sole purpose is to silence and isolate those who dare take a stand against Israel's illegal occupation policies."
The Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon sent a message to the Presbyterian Church (USA) earlier this month warning that churches abroad were interpreting the decision to fire two top officials as an attempt to appease the Jewish community. "It is sad that these two people would be scapegoated for pressures that have been put on the PC USA," said Rev. Joseph Kassab, the synod's executive secretary.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.