WASHINGTON  – Jewish groups pulled out of an upcoming meeting with Protestant colleagues over a letter from Christian leaders to congressmen calling for a possible suspension of US aid to Israel.

“While we remain committed to continuing our dialogue and our collaboration on the many issues of common concern, the letter represents an escalation in activity that the Jewish participants feel precludes a business-as-usual approach,” stated a letter sent by seven Jewish groups to their Christian counterparts in canceling their participation in the Oct. 22 -23 meeting in New York.

The event, an annual gathering, is known as the Christian-Jewish Roundtable and began in 2004 when the issue of Protestant groups divesting from their financial portfolios operations doing business with Israel rose to prominence. Prior to the Protestants' letter to the lawmakers, participants had pledged to update one another on activities regarding Israel, such as the Palestinians' statehood push in the United Nations and the upcoming Israeli elections.

The letter by the Jewish representatives was signed by the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The Anti-Defamation League had announced earlier this week that it would not attend the meeting.

The Jewish groups quit their participation, Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs umbrella group told JTA, because “There’s been a betrayal of trust. … We have to discern if there’s a positive path forward.”

Signers of the Protestants’ letter to Congress included the heads of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches USA and the United Church of Christ.

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