Conservative Officials Clarify Bolton Letters

Officials at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are denying that the organization sent letters to senators praising John Bolton, President Bush’s embattled choice to serve as ambassador to the United Nations.

In its June 24 issue, the Forward reported that the “United Synagogue, which represents about 800 Conservative congregations, sent a pro-Bolton letter to several senators, signed by the co-chair of the movement’s Public Policy Committee, William Bresnick.” The Forward also reported that the other co-chair of the United Synagogue committee, Rabbi Jack Moline, “sent a separate letter to Bush.”

United Synagogue officials insist that Bresnick and Moline sent the letters on behalf of themselves, not the organization.

The letters were sent after the White House began pressing Jewish organizations to issue public endorsements of the Bolton nomination, which has met strong opposition from Democrats. The Democrats have managed to block a vote on Bolton, dealing Bush and Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a major defeat.

The Forward requested to see Moline’s and Bresnick’s letters before publication of its June 24 article. But Moline was traveling and the United Synagogue’s director of public policy, Mark Waldman, said that he did not have any copies available. The Forward recently obtained copies of the letters.

In his June 19 letter to Bush, Moline clearly stated that he was writing as an individual. Bresnick, in his June 20 letter to Frist, did not explicitly state that he was speaking as an individual, but he used the first person when praising Bolton.

“It was a pleasure to have met you last week,” Bresnick wrote in the first line of his letter to Frist. “I appreciated your taking time to join so many of your colleagues to meet with the [Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations], a meeting I attended in my position as co-chair of the Public Policy/Social Action Committee of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, when our president could not attend.”

He added: “I am disappointed in my many friends in the American Jewish community who have not chosen to express more strongly our gratitude for John Bolton’s record of directly speaking out against bigotry, specifically including antisemitism.”

At one point, after praising Bolton for several paragraphs, Bresnick wrote, “Whether or not you would have selected John Bolton to represent the Unites States at the United Nations, the ongoing political gamesmanship of certain of your colleagues has not, in my own opinion, shown a basis for denying the president his choice for this post.”

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Conservative Officials Clarify Bolton Letters

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