In an Aug. 15 letter, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson told leaders of U.S. Jewish and Muslim groups that the assembly action on the Middle East peace strategy (see page 18) affirms Israel’s security interests and acknowledges hardships Palestinians face due to portions of the separation wall that are constructed on their land.
Noting Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s remarks to the assembly (see "Rabbi: 'It's time for peace'"), Hanson’s letter said: “We agree with him that, even as we continue to engage in frank discussion about issues relating to Israel and Palestine, we will continue to work shoulder-to-shoulder to address issues of poverty and injustice both at home and throughout the world. ... I look forward to continuing conversation relating to actions that can best build peace in Israel and Palestine.” (To read the entire letter, see www.elca.org/bishop/m_0508letter.html.)
The American Jewish Committee issued an Aug. 23 press release applauding the ELCA for endorsing “constructive engagement that will foster peace” rather than divestment from Israel. But it criticized the assembly for failing “to explicitly support the right of Israel to use a security barrier in its self-defense. It is critical for mainline Protestants to show equal concern about the dislocation and suffering of Israeli citizens as it is to care for the Palestinians.”
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