Jewish Groups Resume Dialogue With Churches After Israel Aid Schism

Christians Say 'Holy One' Brings Back Interfaith Roundtable

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 18, 2014, issue of April 25, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Before the meeting, which took place at Gutow’s office in New York, two co-facilitators were chosen to prepare the event and to conduct pre-interviews with participants in order to learn about their concerns and expectations. Based on these interviews and preparation work, an agenda for the meeting was set, allowing each side to express their thoughts, but at the same time driving the discussion toward a positive outcome.

“It was a meeting designed to see whether or not we can reach a point where we can talk to each other again.” Gutow said. “And at the end of the meeting, the clearest thing was that we can.”

The five-hour discussion led to an understanding that round-table interfaith meetings should resume, though their format may be tweaked. In addition, participants expressed their wish to reconvene at least once a year. “We will aspire to genuine and ongoing dialogue related to Israeli-Palestinian issues, seeking to identify and discuss, in respect and humility, areas of real or potential disagreement and of real and potential cooperation,” both sides announced in a joint statement at the conclusion of the meeting.

Participants noted in interviews that the most important achievement of the meeting was the understanding that there is a need to rebuild trust between the sides and to consult with each other as partners.

But areas of agreement are limited at this point to goodwill and to procedure. The parties did not discuss the specifics of their disagreements on issues relating to Israel, nor was there any talk of retracting the 2012 letter that was at the root of the dispute. “Instead of looking back at taking back the letter, it is better to look forward to how we can make the issues raised in the letter part of our discussion,” said Hanson, who was among the signers of the letter to Congress. He added that for Christian leaders attending the meeting, the goal was “to reflect on the impact our letter had on the Jewish community.”

Participants from both sides told the Forward that they did not expect any apology or further clarifications and that the focus was on moving forward.

How exactly will similar pitfalls be avoided in the future?

The reconvened round-table discussions and the annual leaders meetings are expected to create an environment in which issues are debated and possibly resolved before the leaders resort to such steps as divestment and calls for cutting aid.

The difference, however, may remain, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), said in an interview. but “when you come to a place of friends, sometimes friends say things that are hard for you to hear, but you can listen because you’re among friends.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.