U.S. Reform leader rails against 'political' Jerusalem declaration
By Shlomo Shamir
NEW YORK - Jewish American leaders have rebuked an umbrella group of U.S. Jewish organizations for the timing of Thursday's declaration that reiterated its support for Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided capital."
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) head Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie said he objected to last week's decision by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations because it was politically motivated.
He said the vote was intended as a jab at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's policy of holding talks with the Palestinian Authority, negotiations that some fear will eventually lead to dividing Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians as part of a long-term peace deal.
"The timing of the vote and its reiteration of the groups' well-known stance sends a wrong message stemming not from concern for Jerusalem, but to demonstrate displeasure with PM Olmert," Yoffie said.
The conference's former president, Seymour Reich, who attended the Jerusalem-held event, also voted against the motion. "I'm disappointed by the decision," Reich told Haaretz. "The vote's timing is a negative gesture, harmful to Prime Minister Olmert and at the same time damaging to the credibility of the conference of presidents."
The conference's current chairman, Malcolm Honline, explained that the vote was held following a request by a number of Jewish organizations. He said it was a symbolic decision that "reiterated our stance since the Six-Day War."