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Are there any Christian King Canutes trying to turn back the Tsunami of anti-Semitism?
Sir Jonathan Sacks, the UK Chief Rabbi, has expressed fears that a "tsunami of anti-Semitism" is threatening to engulf parts of the world.
While saying that the UK is "obviously" not an anti-Semitic country, Sacks noted that there have been attempts to ban Jewish societies in universities because of their support for Israel.
"(This) is quite extraordinary because…British Jews see themselves as British citizens," Sacks said
The UK may not be ‘obviously’ anti-Semitic, but anti-Semitism lurks under the surface. When it rises into view, nothing is done to combat it, or it may even be applauded. When Dave Brown’s blood libel cartoon of Sharon eating a baby appeared in The Independent, not only did he get away with it, but was given an award as Cartoonist of the Year, although his work is generally rather second-rate. Also, according to the Community Security Trust, the number of recorded anti-Semitic attacks in the UK has risen in recent years.
From July 2004 through June 2005, the Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 482 anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom. CST recorded 77 assaults and 43 instances of desecration and damage to property. The number of anti-Semitic incidents rose significantly during 2004. Figures from Israel's Global Forum against Anti-Semitism stated that 310 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the United Kingdom during the year, of which 77 were violent, as opposed to 163 anti-Semitic incidents in 2003, of which 55 were violent. The report stated that a "central cause" of the increase in incidents was "years of hostile reporting and commentary about Israel in the UK press."
Are there any Christian King Canutes trying to turn back the tide of anti-Semitism in the UK? A number of ordinary Christians, people of little power or influence, do what they can, but what about the Church leaders? Church attendance figures may be low, but the majority of people still describe themselves as Christians, and Church leaders enjoy a certain amount of influence. Journalists seek the views of Bishops on various topics, and politicians appear to pay some attention to them. We know about the bias of the leadership of the Church of England, but what about the Catholic bishops?
Here, for instance, is an English Catholic Bishop at a meeting in Bethlehem in 2004, describing episcopal efforts to lobby on behalf of the Palestinians.
Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and Archbishop of Liverpool, told the meeting of the efforts being made in England and Wales, including communications with the Israeli embassy in London, and debate in the House of Commons and House of Lords, where a letter from the Archbishop had been quoted.
And here is a record of their efforts, in Hansard (4 November 2003), where Gerald Kaufman amplifies their complaints about the Israeli security fence, because it inconveniences the Palestinians: Israeli Security Wall
Not surprisingly, the wall has caused deep concerns among Christians and Muslims. I contacted the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and received a reply on behalf of the Archbishop of Liverpool, who leads the Bishops' Conference on this issue. Father Frank Turner SJ wrote to me and said that, after discussing the matter with the Archbishop of Liverpool, he was aware of the gravity of the issues that I had raised. He said that
"the Bishops' Conference, and the Church in the Holy Land, fully share your profound concern about this structure and its effects."
He said that the Catholic bishops of several countries will meet their brother bishops of the Holy Land in Bethlehem and Jerusalem in January 2004 when the focus of the meeting will be the social situation of the Palestinian people and the Church's humanitarian efforts to meet their needs by both advocacy and practical support. He sent me a copy of a letter from the Archbishop of Liverpool to the Israeli ambassador, which expressed the Archbishop's
"great concern about the government of Israel's plans for the construction of a wall separating Israel itself from the West Bank."
Ah yes – Father Frank Turner SJ, the Jesuit Sir Humphrey (or perhaps Grima Wormtongue) quietly pursuing his anti-Semitic ‘anti-Zionist’ agenda during his years behind the scenes in the bureaucracy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. I will write more about him later.
In recent years we have seen the word 'Holocaust' debased by its linkage to events completely unrelated to it's actual meaning.
Using the word 'tsunami' in this context, especially so close to the anniversary of the tragedy is both tasteless and offensive.