From the Rt Revd John Brown
Sir, — Thank you for giving us Canon Paul Oestreicher’s insights into
Features, 21 January). May I please add to this?
Not too long ago, I took part in a conference at Auschwitz organised by the
Jewish-Christian Centre at Sacred Heart University in Fairford, Connecticut.
Those present were rabbis, imams, grand muftis, cardinals, and Muslims, Jews,
and Christians such as myself from the ecclesiastical and academic worlds of
East and West.
We stayed in Auschwitz, and, on a tour of the concentration camp of
Auschwitz/Birkenau, we stood in the Garden of Remembrance built on the site of
the gas chambers.
The Jewish leaders of the conference led us in prayer, and, in the silence
that followed, I asked if I might pray the Lord’s Prayer and intercede in
Arabic. When I had finished, immediately a young Palestinian woman prayed for
peace and reconciliation among the “People of the Book”, the children of
Abraham, and this was taken up by other Muslims present.
The tendency of the whole conference was one of desire for peace and
reconciliation. It was marred only by the intervention of two rabbis of extreme
political views; and the conference was taught that the extreme Palestinian
views are declared and practised by a small politically motivated minority
among the whole Palestinian population.
With this in mind, the “Statement on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” by
the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People (CMJ; advertisement, page 10) in the
same issue demands a detailed and full reply, because of its ambiguity and
Formerly Bishop in Cyprus & the Gulf
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From the Revd Tony Crowe
Sir, — The CMJ Statement on the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is really a moderate form of Christian Zionism. I
met Tony Higton at the 5th International Sabeel Conference, “Challenging
Christian Zionism”, in Jerusalem in April 2004. He was allowed space to express
his views, which he did in a courteous manner.
The Sabeel Statement from the Conference included these words: “With renewed
urgency we warn that the theology of Christian Zionism is leading to the moral
justification of empire, colonisation, apartheid and oppression.”
Indeed, the influence of Christian Zionism has seeped into mainstream
Churches, playing on guilt over the Holocaust.
The CMJ Statement mentions the olive tree from Romans and the dividing wall
from Ephesians without any contextual theology of the uprooting of thousands of
olive trees in the West Bank to build the Israeli Security Fence.
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From the Revd Roger Pollard
Sir, — I note that the CMJ in its “Statement on the Israeli-Palestinian
Conflict” affirms that “God desires justice and peace for all people groups.” I
was distressed, however, not to find any reference to the Middle East Council
of Churches nor to the concerns of the church leaders in the Holy Land.
The indigenous Church, since the time of the first apostles, has been
concerned to promote God’s Kingdom of love, justice and peace. In their recent
statements, the Patriarchs and Heads of the 13 historic Churches in Jerusalem
said: “It is imperative now (following the breakdown of the Oslo accords) to
implement the principles of international legitimacy by enforcing the binding
UN Security Council resolutions” (Jerusalem, 9 November 2000).
It would be helpful to know whether CMJ shares this concern of the
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From Mr R. G. Cranmore
Sir, — I am concerned that this year’s
Holocaust Memorial Day focuses just on survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, and
effectively excludes all other genocides, including those going on at this very
moment, ones which we could still do, and in some cases are doing, something
about by prayer or political or economic action — say, in Darfur, Chechnya, and
I fully condemn the Nazi Holocaust as an evil and historically proven event,
and I respect all Jews for their contribution to British and, indeed, to world
life and culture. The Holocaust is worthy of commemoration and learning, but so
are all the other unique genocides and gross attacks on human rights.
I’m sure the official justification is that it is now the 60th anniversary
of the liberation of Auschwitz; but do we always have to look back and not
I have looked at the Holocaust Memorial Day website, and there appears to be
no mechanism by which anyone can influence what is to be commemorated: it is
presumably agreed by unknown politicians and civil servants with no democratic
consultation. Last year, the Memorial Day encouraged a wider commemoration,
including Rwanda. I had trusted that this year’s topic would be similar.
Thus, regretfully, I shall boycott Holocaust Memorial Day this year.
R. G. CRANMORE
1 Lakeside, Brighton Road
Lancing, West Sussex BN15 8LN