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September 10, 2000

Agudath Israel press release re: ADL's criticism of Senator Lieberman

ADL'S EFFORT TO SILENCE LIEBERMAN EXPRESSION OF RELIGIOUS FAITH DRAWS FIRE FROM AGUDATH ISRAEL

Agudath Israel of America took exception today to a widely publicized letter from the Anti-Defamation League to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman urging the vice presidential candidate to stop making "overt expressions" of religious belief in his campaign speeches.

In a letter to ADL director Abraham Foxman, David Zwiebel, Agudath Israel's executive vice-president for government and public affairs, wrote that "at a time when perhaps the greatest crisis America faces is a crisis of values, a candidate for national office who speaks unashamedly of his own religious faith and of the positive role religion can play in strengthening our society is to be commended, not condemned."

Agudath Israel took issue with the ADL's charge that Senator Lieberman's religious expression risks alienating people and also runs "contrary to the American ideal." To the contrary, asserts Zwiebel, "most Americans welcome and admire Senator Lieberman's public expressions of faith." "If alienating people be the concern," the Agudath Israel leader wrote, "the greater source of potential alienation is a public letter from a prominent Jewish organization such as ADL suggesting that all this religious talk must stop."

Commented Zwiebel: "Abe Foxman is right that there are times when a public official can cross the line of propriety in speaking about religion, but this is not such a time. The fact that all the major candidates for national office are talking about the importance of religious values in these troubled times is actually a most welcome development."

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