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(RNS) Jewish agencies have resolved to handle internal disagreements over Middle East policy, health care reform and other polarizing issues calmly and respectfully, while banding together to confront what one leader called “a growing, global campaign to delegitimize Israel.”
About 300 delegates representing 14 national and 47 community groups gathered in Dallas for the annual plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, the JCPA’s executive director, said delegates were particularly concerned about recent campus protests against Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, who was one of the assembly’s speakers.
These and any other anti-Israel actions — including proposed boycotts, divestment and sanctions — require swift, organized responses, delegates agreed.
Within the American Jewish community, a swell of counterproductive clashes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and domestic politics prompted the group to pass a resolution on civility, Gutow said.
“There’s clearly an international movement designed to attack Israel, demonize her and make her into an illegal state,” Gutow said.
“But, there’s an equal problem in our society and our Jewish community for people to be uncivil to each other, critical to each other. … We need to talk in a way that you would want to talk when God is with you.”
Delegates also voted to ask Congress to loosen immigration quotas for Haitians, and to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy, noting Israel already allows openly gay soldiers in its defense forces.
Resolutions are generally treated as informal guidelines for JCPA members, but this year, Gutow said the group plans to follow up on the Israel and civility votes with committee meetings, interfaith discussions and written action.
By Nicole Neroulias
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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