B’nai B’rith World Center Dismayed At Van Leer Institute For Cooperating With Upcoming Anti-Israel Conference
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem calls on the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem to withdraw all connection and support for “Christ at the Checkpoint,” a conference that will take place in Bethlehem March 5-9, because of the clear anti-Israel and anti-Jewish posture of the event.
The conference will host a number of prominent anti-Zionist commentators—including author Professor Gary Burge, Anglican Rev. Stephen Sizer, film producer/director Porter Speakman, Jr., and journalist Ben White—who all have a troubling history of demonizing and delegitimizing Israel, downplaying the misdeeds of Israel’s adversaries and deriding Jewish historical claims. Additionally, the conference will promote the anti-Israel Kairos Declaration.
On Feb. 14, World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz and Director Alan Schneider wrote to Van Leer director, Professor Gabriel Motzkin about the nature of the conference, noting that the conference and its organizers seek to move Christian support from Israel to the Palestinians while demonizing and delegitimizing the State of Israel and deriding Jewish history. In his response, Motzkin insisted the conference is an academic exercise and argued the Kairos Declaration is a “fascinating document” for educational reasons.
Motzkin’s response indicates at the very least insensitivity and at worst a rationalization of the efforts being waged against Israel by elements in the Christian world who seek to demonize Israeli policies seemingly at every turn and downplay the misdeeds of its adversaries.
The issue at hand is why the Van Leer Institute is facilitating and legitimizing such a gathering. “Christ at the Checkpoint” claims it is committed to promoting peace. The presence of these commentators indicates otherwise.