The Church of England’s acceptance of a motion on the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) has met with strong condemnation from within Anglo Jewry. The motion had been resisted by Anglican Friends of Israel as well as many other groups and individuals including Chief Rabbi, Lord Sachs.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews described General Synod’s adoption of the motion as
riding roughshod over the Jewish community
The Board described EAPPI as an
inflammatory and partisan programme
Bishop of Manchester, Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch, chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews attempted to remove any reference to EAPPI from the tabled motion. He cautioned that its adoption could
seriously impair relations between Christians and Jews in the UK
The outcome of the vote was: 21 bishops in favour of the motion, 3 against and 14 abstentions. The clergy voted 89 in favour, 21 against and 44 abstentions, whilst lay members voted 91 in favour, 30 against with 35 abstentions.
Supporting Anglican Friends of Israel’s campaign against the motion, Canon Andrew White (Vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad) wrote
The motion is unjust and has caused deep pain in the Jewish Community. It neglects the wars against Israel’s very right to exist. It overlooks the persecution of Jews in the Middle East that preceded the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Israel – like all countries – is not perfect, but she sincerely wishes to find peace.
Ruth Gledhill (religion correspondent at the Times) providing analysis for the Jewish Chronicle starts by saying
once again the actions of my Church over Israel have reduced me to shame
She ends with a ‘collective’ apology
meanwhile, to readers of the Jewish Chronicle, on behalf of my Church, I apologise.
The Board of Deputies highlighted serious misgivings about the nature of the General Synod debate:
moreover, to hear the debate at General Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish-sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust’, is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.
The Chief Rabbi had previously warned that if the motion were passed it would do
serious damage to Jewish-Christian relations.
Sadly the Anglican Church has taken another step along a path of politicisation and adoption of (as the Chief Rabbi described) a “one sided narrative”. It is difficult to see how this motion has contributed anything positive towards inter faith relations or the chances of a lasting settlement in the Middle East.
The sensibility and erudition of the Synod faces serious questions.
Member of the Council of Christians and Jews,
Community Relations Director, AFI.