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ADL Troubled by United Church of Christ's Embrace of Radicalized Palestinian Christian Group

New York, NY, January 10, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is troubled by the United Church of Christ's continuing partnership with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, a radicalized Palestinian Christian group whose leaders have openly questioned Israel's right to exist.

"While it is heartening that the United Church of Christ has come out strongly against those who advocate for Israel's destruction, it is troubling that church leaders continue to embrace the Sabeel Center while ignoring statements from its leader questioning Israel's right to exist," said Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs.  "You can't have it both ways."

In October, leaders of the UCC, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Common Global Ministries Board issued a statement condemning both suicide terrorism and recent statements from the Iranian President calling for Israel's destruction.  "With our partner the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center," the church leaders said, "we assert the moral reprehensibility of suicide bombing."

While welcoming UCC's clear denunciation of violence, ADL is troubled by the church's continuing partnership with the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Christian group until such time as they recognize Israel's historic validity and right to exist.  Sabeel's founder and leader, Rev. Naim Ateek, has on several occasions openly questioned Israel's right to exist, at one point telling an audience of Christian and Jewish interfaith leaders: "I have come to the point of the reality – but not the right – of Israel's existence."

In a letter to Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ and Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and other church leaders, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman and Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor asked: "If Sabeel is your partner, how can you countenance these words, and not see a relationship between the words and those who attack Israel physically and verbally?"

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.

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