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Bush Planned Speech to Christian Missionaries Draws Jewish Ire

Image: Bush Planned Speech to Christian Missionaries Draws Jewish Ire

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 05:20 AM

By Elliot Jager

Plans by former President George W. Bush to deliver the keynote address at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Irving, Texas, on November 14 has drawn opposition from Jewish groups. The institute's mission is to convince Jews to convert to Christianity.
 
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed disappointment that Bush will move ahead with plans to speak at the event.

From Israel, where he is attending meetings, Abraham Foxman, ADL national director, said in a news release: "President Bush is a friend who has an abiding love and respect for Israel and the Jewish people. I know that he does not represent or embrace the purpose or the mission of this group, and therefore I wish he would not speak there."

A Bush confidante told Politico
that the former president speaks to a variety of groups about leadership and his presidency.

"His remarks typically touch on his love for America and, as a part of that, how religious freedom and tolerance make our country great," the confidante said. "They are not an endorsement of the group he is addressing or their work."

Jonathan Tobin, a senior editor at Commentary magazine, acknowledges that politically conservative Jews are uncomfortable with Bush's planned appearance.

He is telling left-wing critics of the president not to use this incident "to delegitimize all evangelical supporters of Israel and to disrupt the growing ties between Jews and their friends among the Christian right."

Tobin said that whatever liberal Jews might think of Bush's policies
, "he is no enemy of the Jews, not while he was president and not today. His record on Israel, and indeed his friendship for the American Jewish community, is a matter of record."

In 2011, according to its IRS filing statement, the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute spent $1.2 million mostly in the former Soviet Union and in Ethiopia on converting people of the Jewish faith to Christianity.
 
The group spent just $20,000 in Israel and virtually nothing in the United States, the Jewish Journal based in California reported.

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