From the Revd David Gifford
Sir, - Canon Paul Oestreicher's letter (
9 November) was somewhat confusing. Admittedly our mission has
always been to address anti-Semitism in the Church, and this has
met with a measure of success in our 70-year history. But nowhere
will he see CCJ stating that criticism of the policies or the
actions around the settlements or at the crossings is tantamount to
Indeed, within CCJ there are many Jews and Christians who are
robust in their criticism of the abuses that we see in Israel.
Similarly, those of us who work daily with members of the British
Jewish community are well aware of their own criticism of some of
the goings-on in Israel and the Palestinian territories .
So Canon Oestreicher's comment is wrong. It is unfortunate that
he has chosen to position his own criticism of CCJ in this way. Our
call is for the Church to exercise greater generosity in the
language that we choose to use in matters relating to the Israel/
Palestine conflict. The Church's apparent insensitivity to the
current anxiety of the British Jewish community only exacerbates
the feeling among Jews of an attack on their identity, and a
growing conviction that the Church chooses to be deaf to their
calls for balance in the criticism of Israel and an exploration for
peace for all in the region.
We saw the withdrawal of the Bishop of Newcastle and the RC
Bishop of Hexham & Newcastle not as succumbing to pressure, but
as demonstrating that highly charged and potentially negative
gatherings rarely achieve much in the way of understanding and
progress to peace and reconciliation.
The Council of Christians and Jews
21 Godliman Street
London EC4V 5BD