Confronting Evil of Antisemitism

January 27, 2004
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Letter published in The Times on 27th January 2004

Sir, Since its inception 60 years ago during the darkest days of the Second World War, the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) has continued to confront the evil of antisemitism with a message of healing and mutual respect between our communities.

The warm friendship between Britain’s Christian and Jewish leaders — nourished by the work of CCJ at local level — has had an influence that extends beyond our two faiths. It has helped to set a tone for tolerance and respectful diversity across religious and ethnic boundaries in Britain.

Today, however, antisemitism is resurfacing as a phenomenon in many parts of the world. Incitement to hatred and actual violence against Jewish people has increased.

Britain has been less affected than many other countries but has certainly not been immune. We recognise that many in the Jewish community feel vulnerable and afraid.

As presidents of CCJ, we agree that antisemitism is abhorrent. It is an attempt to dehumanise a part of humanity by making it a scapegoat for shared ills. We pledge ourselves once more to combat all forms of racism, prejudice and xenophobia.

We recognise that the suffering of the Jewish people is a stain on the history of Europe and our total rejection of antisemitism, amid evidence of its resurgence, is a signal that we will not permit it to stain our continent’s future as it has its past. Criticism of government policy in Israel, as elsewhere, is a legitimate part of democratic debate. However, such criticism should never be inspired by antisemitic attitudes, extend to a denial of Israel’s right to exist, or serve as justification for attacks against Jewish people around the world. Achieving peace, justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land would help to make it harder for antisemitism to flourish.

We reject the misuse of religion and religious language in seeking to address political challenges. We seek instead to be heard together in our shared confidence that, in the mercy of God, the wounds of the world can be healed.

Yours faithfully,

ROWAN CANTUAR, CORMAC MURPHY-O’CONNOR, JONATHAN SACKS,

The Council of Christians and Jews,

87-89 Albert Embankment, SE1 7TP.

January 26.