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events
22/01/2015 2:30pm
Commemorating the national Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of Nelly Ben-Or Clynes, our local Holocaust survivor Concert Pianist & Teacher. Followed by light refreshments. Entry donation £3.00 [CCJ members £2.00]. All are welcome.
27/01/2015 7:45pm
We will watch the film Remembering the Holocaust.
24/02/2015 7:45pm
Speaker William Evans, who is a PhD student at Birmingham University.
25/02/2015 8:00pm
Miranda Suit of Safer Media for a Safer Society, will be talking about Children and the Internet.
 

CCJ responds to the Statement on Israel/Palestine programming by Greenbelt

The Council of Christians and Jews welcomes the Statement on Israel/Palestine programming by Greenbelt as a helpful public clarification of its position. It is a matter of public record that CCJ approached Greenbelt in March 2013, raising particular concerns about its invitation to speaker Dr Mark Braverman, to the exclusion of voices which might in turn challenge him and prompt a wider more inclusive response. It is similarly a matter of public record that this offer was turned down, on ideological rather than on pragmatic grounds.

CCJ’s issue was not with Dr Braverman’s politics, or his views on any number of actions by any Israeli regime. Our issue was that, as is clear from his book, Fatal Embrace, he locates his politics in a context where he sees Zionism as a mistake at best and immoral at worst. For Braverman, the roots of Zionism lie in the traditional understanding of the uniqueness of the Jewish people because of their Covenant with God. Now, Jews have been debating what the Covenant means, and what follows from it, for millennia (one might say: since Abraham). But such a sweeping rejection of traditional Jewish teaching – without challenge from other Jewish voices – is unlikely to bring insight.

Sadly, our concerns were only too justified. In his two talks at Greenbelt, Braverman was insistent that, for him, Zionism must logically lead to ethnic cleansing or apartheid. What is more, he made judgements about the soul or disposition of the Jewish people as a whole, saying: ‘my people behind that wall – and I include Jews outside of Israel as well, because the wall is psychological and it is spiritual – have learned to hate’. CCJ suggests, in sorrow not in anger, that the notion of the collective guilt of the whole Jewish people for the actions of some is not a radical position, but the oldest form of Christian anti-Judaism that there is.

In this context, it is unsurprising that he can see no good in mainstream Jewish-Christian dialogue. Thus, while Braverman welcomed moves ‘to purge Christianity of the toxic, sinful anti-Jewishness that had infested the faith’, his judgement was that the interfaith ‘industry’ which seeks to do this ‘has morphed into support for the longest-standing systematic human-rights violation in the world today. ‘ CCJ suggests that the fact that Braverman is led to such untrue hyperbole in his condemnation of Jewish-Christian dialogue as we know it is telling.

We regard these matters as serious, and thus feel compelled to comment. We hope hereby to draw a line. We look forward to a better quality of discussion with a view to offering a broader and deeper range of challenges to all settled positions next year.

We note that Greenbelt is a wide-ranging ‘arts, faith and justice’ festival, with many emphases. Most participants will not have heard Mark Braverman at all. We join with those who celebrated Greenbelt’s 40th anniversary and add our word of congratulations.

 
branches
CCJ Oxford were pleased to host a lecture on Tuesday 9th December by Marcus Ferrar, who spent eighteen years as a Reuters journalist.
Report of talks given by Report of talks by Eliad Moreh Rosenberg and Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Bexhill hosted Faiths in Sussex’s Autumn Interfaith event drawing together members of Interfaith Groups from all over Sussex. Seven speakers addressed the topic.
Chairman's report to 2014 AGM of North London branch.