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Sad: Church Coalition Targets Israel in Letter to President Obama

"This church coalition's advice to the President about 'ending the occupation,' without citing Palestinian transgressions, reveals their preconceived anti-Israel bias." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion & Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 /Christian Newswire/ -- Declaring they "fully support your goal of ending the occupation [by Israel] that began in 1967," liberal religious leaders are urging President Obama to facilitate peace in a region "torn by walls and weapons." The U.S. is leading a restart this week of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Organized by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) an ecumenical advocacy organization composed primarily of Mainline Protestant and Orthodox churches, including some Catholic groups, the letter speaks of needing "major compromises" from both sides. But clearly Israel is their focus.

In addition to the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, the August 30 letter is signed by the heads of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Several Evangelical left figures, including Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo and Ron Sider have also signed.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

"This church coalition's advice to the President about 'ending the occupation,' without citing Palestinian transgressions, reveals their preconceived anti-Israel bias.

"While urging 'major compromises' by both sides, this church coalition's record suggests they see Middle East peace obtained mainly through U.S. pressure on Israel. The Palestinians are portrayed merely as aggrieved victims awaiting justice. Of course, the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians is far more complicated. These church groups do not advance either peace or justice by simplistically villainizing Israel while ignoring the vast change in Palestinian attitudes necessary for ending the conflict."

The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.

www.TheIRD.org