US clergymen met with Hizbullah

Reverend says Nov. meeting in south Lebanon was part of an educational trip.

hizbullah flag 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hizbullah flag 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The top Presbyterian church official in Chicago has angered Jewish leaders in this city who say a meeting he and other Presbyterians had with Hizbullah last month was "unconscionable." The Rev. Bob Reynolds, head of the Chicago Presbytery, said the meeting in southern Lebanon took place in early November and was part of a tour of the Middle East. "The goal of my trip was educational," Reynolds said. "I think one way people can learn from one another is to learn the way people talk about themselves and describe their own reality. In some small measure that did happen on this visit." The White House has labeled Hizbullah as a terrorist group. "It is unconscionable that Presbyterian leaders would meet with Hizbullah, which our government designates as a foreign terrorist organization," Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement Thursday. "Hizbullah (Party of God) has a track record of terror that is unambiguous. It pioneered the use of suicide bombing in the Middle East." The criticism comes a little more than a year after two employees of the national church were fired for planning an unauthorized meeting with the Lebanese group. In July, the Presbyterian Church (USA), at its general assembly, voted to study the possibility of withdrawing its investments in companies that do business with Israel. Jewish leaders were upset by the vote.