Background The Liaison Committee was first established in 1986 as an informal Jewish-Christian initiative to foster mutual respect and understanding between local Jews and Christians in a congenial atmosphere and as a platform for raising and resolving issues that impact on both communities. The Liaison Committee (LC) was recently reactivated on the same foundations by the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel and the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem. Members of the LC include religious, civic, academic and political figures in Israel who seek to conduct frank discussion with no political or religious bias. The ambience is conducive to liaison and personal communication, where problems can be raised and discussed in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. Since plans began to reinstate LC, two preparatory meetings were held for Jewish participants on the state of Christian communities in Israel and the Palestinian Authority (November 2009) and on the Kairos Declaration (January 2010).
Past activities Initially co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel along with the Israel Interfaith Association and the Israel office of the American Jewish Committee, the LC had conducted workshops and symposia several times a year on various subjects including: 1. Are the Christian communities “at home” in Israel, a tolerated presence, or just an accident that happens to be around? 2. What limitations exist as to the rights of these communities? 3. Defamation, discrimination and harassment directed against Christians in Israel. 4. The Churches’ contributions to the existential threats of the State of Israel.
Participants Invitees to the re-instated LC include Israeli government ministers, MK's, officials of the Foreign Affairs, Religious Affairs, and Interior Ministries, representatives of the Jerusalem Municipality and other local authorities, leaders of various churches in Israel, representatives of Christian institutions, theologians and academics.
Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel (ETRFI) The ETRFI was founded in Jerusalem in February 1966 by a group of clergy and theologians living in Israel. They shared the feeling that recent history demanded a fundamental consideration of Christian attitudes towards the Jewish faith and people, and that the State of Israel offered a unique setting for facing this task together. The objectives of the ETRFI is to deepen the Christian relationship with Jews, Judaism and Israel, to draw together the different Christian traditions into a theological fraternity and to be a catalyst in Christian-Jewish dialogue and reconciliation world-wide. Today, ETRFI is the recognized roof-organization for Christians engaged in Christian-Jewish dialogue in Israel. It is also the ecumenical group containing the widest range of members from all the historic churches. ETRFI collaborates with a very great range of organizations and institutions in Israel, including all Christian institutions and many Jewish ones, such as: American Jewish Committee, B'nai Brith, Hebrew University, Jerusalem Foundation and Shalom Hartman Institute.
The B’nai B’rith World Center The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem is the hub of Israel activities for B’nai B’rith International (est. 1843), serving as the key link between Israel and B’nai B’rith members and supporters around the world. Through its myriad educational programs and well-established relationships with political leaders across the spectrum, the diplomatic corps and leading academic institutions, the World Center strengthens Israel-Diaspora relations and interprets developments concerning the Jewish state for B'nai B'rith members and Israel supporters around the world. The B’nai B’rith World Center was established in 1980 as a poignant response to U.N Security Council Resolution 487 that called earlier that year on all member states to remove their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. B'nai B'rith International is universally recognized as one of the world's largest and oldest Jewish human rights, community action, and humanitarian organization. A constant source of innovation and charity for populations around the world, B'nai B'rith has founded hospitals, orphanages, senior housing communities, disaster relief campaigns, libraries, anti-hatred programs, and countless other initiatives in the public interest. B'nai B'rith is also a tireless advocate for Israel and the Diaspora in a variety of governmental and political arenas. With more than 180,000 members and affiliates in more than 50 countries and official UN NGO status, and as one of the only Jewish organization headquartered in Washington DC, B'nai B'rith spans the globe in its efforts to make Jewish communities better for all their inhabitants.
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