ELCA and Israel–Wiesenthal Center “Disappointed”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has expressed its disappointment over the ELCA’s “confused Middle East signals.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center deplores a resolution passed this weekend at the 10th biennial Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to ‘study’ the feasibility of a boycott against goods produced in Israeli ‘settlements.’ “This marks the first time a mainline American Protestant church has moved toward a possible boycott of Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the leading Jewish human rights group. “While we note that the ELCA delegates have now joined the Presbyterian Church (USA) in explicitly rejecting divesting from companies doing business with Israel, they have decided to embrace one of the anti-Israel tactics adopted by United Kingdom trade unions and others in Europe.”

“ELCA delegates would have made a stronger contribution to the quest for peace and justice in the Holy Land had they also raised the ransacking of Christian places of worship and recent forced conversion of a Christian professor in Gaza, as well as the unrelenting targeting of Israeli civilian communities by Palestinian Kassam rockets,” Cooper concluded.

In recent years, factions in some U.S. mainline Protestant churches like the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ have proposed and even passed measures such as divestment and boycotts to punish Israel for implementing what they call “apartheid” conditions on the Palestinians. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has launched efforts to show members of these various congregations that such measures are one-sided in that Israel is singled out and held to a standard to which no other country is held.