CCJ Statement 20th May

Posted Mon, 05/24/2021 - 08:54 by Robert

The Jewish festival of Shavuot, which concluded on Tuesday evening, celebrates God's gift of the life-giving Torah on Mount Sinai. On Sunday, many Christians will mark the festival of Pentecost and celebrate the gift of the Spirit of life. As Jews and Christians, we affirm that life is a gift from God, and we have watched with alarm this week as a growing number of lives have been lost in Israel, Gaza, and elsewhere in the region.

Over the past ten days we have talked with dozens of members, partners, and stakeholders—ordinary people around this country as well as Jewish and Christian leaders. We have heard worry expressed over family members in Israel at risk of new, longer-range rocket attacks from Hamas; fears over the resilience of Israel's mixed society; despair over the future of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians; and grief over the deaths in Gaza due to Israeli air strikes. We have also heard troubling as well as encouraging stories about the coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Israel and hopes that there will be a lasting peace which will address the underlying issues. And in the midst of this tumultuous time, we also celebrated with the Anglican Communion as Archbishop Hosam Naoum was installed as Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem—a leader who spoke to our latest Israel-Palestine study tour which concluded online two weeks ago. Our connections to the Holy Land are manifold, deep, abiding, and often intensely emotional.

Across CCJ we have diverse and not always reconcilable views on the conflict and its causes. But we are united in concern over the dramatic increase in reported antisemitism in the UK. In the last five days, for example, Jewish students at a London university have received death threats; shockingly sexist and antisemitic language was shouted through a loudspeaker at a street protest; and a rabbi was violently assaulted near his synagogue, needing hospital treatment—an attack police have called a hate crime but said is unrelated to events overseas. Arrests have been made in the latter two incidents. Intimidation, threats, and violence against anyone because of their religion or ethnicity serves no one and has no place in our society.

We are also concerned about the tenor of our debate over the conflict. We are often divided over Israel-Palestine within our respective faith communities as well as between them. At this critical moment we urge all people of goodwill to listen rather than jump to assumptions; to temper our rhetoric; and to think about how our words might be received by others. We particularly urge Christians to consider how their opinions might be heard by a Jewish neighbour, who may understandably feel alarmed at the moment. Through these actions, and through our prayers, we hope that we can all bring insight and empathy rather than more conflict.

Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Chair, Council of Christians and Jews, on behalf of CCJ

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