There is an unwritten rule that synagogues in the United States do not intervene in partisan American politics.

On Thursday, one of the largest synagogue organizations in the United States, the National Council of Young Israel, an umbrella organization which represents more than 150 synagogues around the U.S., decided to disregard that rule.

They did so by making an unprecedented appeal to Sen. Barack Obama and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean to rescind the invitation extended to former President Jimmy Carter to address next week’s convention in Denver.

In a letter sent to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and the DNC Chairman, NCYI President Shomo Z. Mostofsky, and NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner cited Carter’s anti-Israel statements and actions as the reasons behind their request.

“Over the past several years, President Carter has repeatedly and relentlessly undermined Israel’s position on the world stage,” wrote Mostofsky and Lerner. “He has blatantly disregarded the standard code of conduct on issues related to international affairs, always to the detriment of Israel and its citizens. Affording Mr. Carter a prime speaking engagement on the Democrats’ brightest stage is an affront to the State of Israel, and to all American Zionists, whether they are Christians or Jews.”

The full text of the National Council of Young Israel’s letters appears below.

Dear Senator Obama and Chairman Dean:

We are writing to express our profound disappointment at the decision to add former President James Carter to the list of speakers at next week’s Democratic National Convention. We ask that you rescind President Carter’s invitation to address the convention in Denver.

Over the past several years, President Carter has repeatedly and relentlessly undermined Israel’s position on the world stage. He has blatantly disregarded the standard code of conduct on issues related to international affairs, always to the detriment of Israel and its citizens. Affording Mr. Carter a prime speaking engagement on the Democrats’ brightest stage is an affront to the State of Israel, and to all American Zionists, whether they are Christians or Jews.

Mr. Carter’s transgressions against Israel are well known and well documented. In April 2008 he deliberately and wantonly ignored the wishes of the United States government when he traveled to Syria to meet with Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas’ terrorist organization. The fact that he embraced Hamas, a terrorist group that has repeatedly called for the destruction of the State of Israel, the obliteration of the United States, and the annihilation of the Jewish people, was a slap in the face to Israel, the U.S., and Jews everywhere.

In addition, let us not forget Mr. Carter’s 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” in which he condemned Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and criticized American Jews for what he called their efforts to curb any debate on the issue by exercising their power. In his book, Mr. Carter examined the history of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and was highly critical of Israel’s policies.

A great deal of the controversy surrounding the book focused on Mr. Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” in the book’s title. Although apartheid was the official policy of racial segregation that was used in South Africa to discriminate against non-whites, Mr. Carter said that it is an appropriate term to describe Israel’s policies in relation to its treatment of the Palestinians.

Further, it was just several months ago when Mr. Carter inexplicably disclosed to the world classified details about Israel’s nuclear program, thereby undermining Israel’s ability to properly defend itself when attacked by its enemies.

In light of President Carter’s highly disturbing position towards the State of Israel, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to permit him to speak at the upcoming convention. Time and time again, Mr. Carter has proven that he has no compunction when it comes to using his bully pulpit to bully Israel, one of America’s strongest and closest allies. As the leaders of the Democratic Party, you have the ability to right this wrong and preclude Mr. Carter from taking the stage in Denver. It would be a shame to have such a special event for the Democratic Party tainted by the presence and involvement of an individual who has made prejudice one of his central themes.

Very truly yours,

Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, Esq., President
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.