Sept. 13 marks the 10th anniversary of the Saturday morning protests outside the Beth Israel Congregation, and religious leaders are asking the Ann Arbor City Council to denounce the demonstrations.
Earlier this week, the Rev. James Rhodenhiser of the St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church gave council members a letter signed by 32 religious leaders from Ann Arbor, Saline and Ypsilanti.
"This is the same sort of marginalizing, demonizing of a minority we have seen attempted recently against Michigan Muslims in Dearborn," the letter says. "This is not the kind of action that is welcomed in our town."
A group called Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends has demonstrated each Sabbath morning outside the synagogue. The group says it opposes what it describes as "Israel's brutal and illegal military occupation of Palestinian lands, and the suffering of the Palestinian people."
Henry Herskovitz, founder of Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, said he would stop the protests if the synagogue would take down the Israeli flag inside its sanctuary and go on record promoting full equal rights for Palestinians in the state of Israel.
Rhodenhiser said the group has a right to free speech, but said it is wrong to target Beth Israel for the actions of a foreign government. He said Ann Arbor should mark the 10th anniversary of the protests by publicly denouncing the group's behavior.
Mayor John Hieftje and other council members said they share many of the same concerns and they wish the protests would stop, even if they have a legal right to protest.
"Anything new we could do, I think, would be good," Hieftje said. "Council did pass a resolution a long time ago and we've taken some more recent actions, but it's a very tough problem. Attorneys have worked on it. We've been talking about it for a very long time."