UK CHRISTIANS have been involved with the state of Israel since itfoundation, the Archbishop of Canterbury asserted on Tuesday. He was speakinat a historic meeting with Israel's Chief Rabbis at Lambeth Palace.
The meeting resulted in a joint statement that Israel had a right to livwithin recognised and secure borders, and to defend itself by all legal meanagainst those who threatened its peace and security.
Dr Williams met Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger in the presencof 70 other Jewish and Christian leaders from England to sign a joindeclaration which stressed the "unique" quality of the Christian-Jewisrelationship.
"The United Kingdom, encouraged by its Christian community, was involved ithe origins of the State of Israel," the leaders acknowledged in theideclaration. Britain had also initiated the first Council of Christians anJews in "the dark days of 1942".
But the relationship "had not been without setback and difficulties"Anti-Semitism was on the rise in Britain, as it was in the rest of Europe, thMiddle East, and across the world.
In the declaration, the leaders strongly backed Britain's Holocaust MemoriaDay, and said they would oppose anyone who denied the reality of anti-Semitism"We condemn without reserve those who deny a place for Israel and especiallthose who engage in the evil work of seeking to bring about its destruction.
"Where it is fostered within communities of faith we have particularesponsibilities which we will not shirk; where it is fostered by governmentor political parties we will openly oppose it; at all times we will seek teducate the coming generations in the history of anti-Semitism, recognisinthat there have been times when the Church has been complicit in it," thdeclaration states.
Both religions were "rooted in the one overarching covenant of God witAbraham to which God remains faithful through all time". Their relationship wa"unique historically through the interaction of the Christian and Jewiscommunities, especially in Europe, down to the Holocaust; and it is unique ithe contributions made through the arts, science, and humanities to a commoculture."
In their speeches, the leaders called for a rebuilding of the emotional anpsychological relations between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities ithe Middle East.
"We have acknowledged the tensions that shadow the present situationparticularly the ongoing tragic conflicts in the Holy Land. But our hope harested very firmly on this; that without friendship and mutual confidencewithout the ability to speak to one another candidly and lovingly, we shalnever be in a position where our relationship can change things and challengthings and move the situation forward," Dr Williams said.
Also present were the Coadjutor Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Revd SuheiDawani, and Bishops Michael Jackson and John Stroyan.
The Chief Rabbis were supported by Rabbi David Rosen, and by the Chief Rabbof the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sack