I first heard about Canon Andrew White in Israel. We were just two families celebrating Pesach in a hotel in Jerusalem. Kalela had just made aliyah so we went over and stayed in the Har Zion hotel (the nearest to East Jerusalem, as it happens) because it was not far from the Kotel. https://www.inisrael.com/mountzion/index.html
The other family was from France, and their daughter was studying at Bar Ilan University. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Ilan_University
They themselves were going on aliyah, because of the situation in France. She was a consultant and he was a business man. At the time I couldn't believe it.
And why were we the only two families in this lovely but unpretentious hotel, built at the time of the Turks? Because of the Intifada. And people just weren't coming.
And a guy with a cockney accent came up to our table at the bar one day, where Charlie, a Christian Arab, has been in charge for absolute yonks, and started talking and asked if we knew Canon Andrew White. And we didn't. And said that he was great and that he and Lord Carey and various other bigwigs (was one Prince Michael of Kent?) were involved in peace initiatives and that this hotel had been used as a venue for the three religions involved.
And I was later shown the conference room used and it was truly magnificent.
And this guy suggested that I contact Andrew at Coventry Cathedral when I got back.
And two days later Jenin happened. And all the Israeli soldiers were suddenly billeted with us, and also French TV arrived and were determined to have nothing to do with Jews or Christians, but just interviewed Arabs in the hotel (some of whom were Christian of course, including Charlie, but never expect the media to know anything) and prepared their very objective report on the matter.
And I thought nothing more of it except that this was not like Pesach in Broughton Park.
And then a journalist friend gave me Andrew White's details again last year and we have never looked back.
Much of his work is secret, so I can't divulge it here. But I can say that he came up to Manchester to try and persuade the Bishops here to work with me on interfaith matters, and especially on Israel. And he also told the rabbis he met at my house that it is imperative to work with both sides and that they should beware Christians who say they love us, but out of selfish motives.
He thought the ACC decision to 'welcome' the APJN report on Jerusalem dire. But when the Archbishop of Canterbury actually voted for divestment from Caterpillar in February, Andrew rang me six times in all from Iraq and begged me not to give up on the Church. And quoted what every previous Archbishop had said about the Jews, which had been positive.
Because he knew that I was to give a talk the next day in Manchester's Anglican Cathedral in celebration of the 350th anniversary of our return to England, so what an irony.
He called the Synod vote 'sanctimonious claptrap' and said he was 'ashamed to be an Anglican' and that he wouldn't work with the Church in England if it carried on like this.
He also wrote to the Ehtical Investments Advisory Group and had meetings with Canon Guy Wilkinson, the ABC's Interfaith Advisor (also to feature on this blog in the future).
And before that in August, he had urged me to write my article, Anglicans Betray the Jews for the Church Times and provided a quote that was so potent present-day Christian antisemitism that the paper wouldn't use it (for that see under Tsaddik Rachel Boulding of the Church Times).
But what I like best about him is that he studied at a yeshiva (was it in Bnei Brak, or Mea Shearim, I can't remember) and yet was taught by Les' reform rabbi cousin, Nicholas de Lange at Cambridge, who he admires. He came with me to the BBC and embarrassed me by saying that the Israelis were the rudest people ever, but you could trust them (unlike the other side). He called Hamas 'terrorists', which is of course what they are. And he is one of the 'between' people, who have to work with both sides.
And of course he risks his life whenever he does his
work in Iraq as well.
When he came up to see us in Manchester, he also saved a life, which I don't want to go into here.
And he was thrilled when Lord Carey appointed me to the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East
and also when I said I was making aliyah and even wrote to the Chief Rabbi of Haifa about me without telling me in advance.
Because this is a person who gets things done; understands the issues and cares passionately for peace.
And his former teacher, Nicholas, thinks he should get the Nobel Peace Prize and I agree.
Because he is now working with the Archbishop of Canterbury as well (via the Naaman Trust) to bring relief to the Christians in Bethlehem, who are suffering even more since Hamas took office.