New York, NY, September 15, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed deep disappointment with the new World Council of Churches (WCC) and National Council of Churches (NCC) statement on the Middle East.
The statement was presented in a press conference on September 14 in Washington, D.C., which ascribed blame to Israel as the sole entity responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, and Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, issued the following statement:
How disappointing, yet sadly predictable, that the World Council of Churches as well as the National Council of Churches did not take this opportunity to approach the Arab-Israeli conflict in a new way or constructive manner. Instead of blaming Israel alone, they could have legitimately mentioned the role of the Palestinians and the broader Arab world for the continuation of the conflict. They could have used this stage to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs instead of calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. They could have used their moral authority to call out the belligerence and hostility of nations like Iran and non-state actors like Hezbollah and ISIS that promote sectarianism and perpetuate violence across the region, frequently oppressing religious minorities including Christians.
The WCC and NCC preference to blame only Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict - and for the failure to achieve a two-state solution - is wrong on the facts and detached from the realities in the region. Statements such as these remove the WCC and NCC from consideration as entities that might play a constructive role in furthering reconciliation and peace. Instead, it only further exposes their historic anti-Israel bias where neither facts nor complexity are relevant. By refusing to hold Palestinian or Arab parties responsible for any role in the conflict, it only serves to reinforce obstructionist perceptions by the Palestinians that they need not take any steps to end the conflict.
This position surely will not convince those concerned about Israel’s welfare to view either organization as a true partner for peace. It is time for these two bodies to refrain from using old tropes and accusations and put forth constructive ideas that might actually contribute to bringing the parties together.