Tonight, whilst sharing the pleasures of reading a book in classical modern Hebrew at the house of a friend who studied the subject, with Arabic, at Oxford many years ago, and who still retains her profound knowledge of the language, we discussed that Christmas carol concert at St. James's Piccadilly:
A letter from one of the organisers has been sent to The Times and the Jewish Chronicle and many feel that the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Canterbury should have spoken out. I should add that my friend is devoutly religious and not a Zionist, but she felt, as did her husband, that both leaders should have protested.
Meanwhile, Professor Geoffrey Alderman has penned his response in the Jewish Chronicle, in which he suggests that the concert was 'officially sanctioned Anglican hositlity to the Jewish state'
I don't actually agree with this. The Church of England is not a dictatorship, but more a conglomerate. Even my Hebrew-reading friends agreed that if there were a spat regarding a synagogue in our area of Manchester, it is doubtful that the Chief Rabbi would intervene, and certainly in Israel, synagogues disagree all the time, and this does not necessarily result in a reaction from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.
A very thoughtful and knowledgeable friend in the Church of England wrote this to me regarding the JC article on Friday afternoon:
I am sorry that he has no appreciation either of the diversity and independence within the CofE which is something we greatly value despite the difficulties that it can give rise to. We are not, and do not wish to be, a centralised corporate body. Nor does he seem willing to even acknowledge the range of things that our communities and leaders are doing together in this country, let alone what the Archbishop has said over and again about Israel.
But some people are simply fixated and will not let awkward facts get in the way of their predetermined view
We just have to continue ...
And yes, there is a great deal of good work being done by the Church of England and the Jewish communities together. Take this article about the massacre at the Chabad Centre in Mumbai:
OK, the writer, Paul Vallely may not be totally au fait with the role and goals of Lubavitch world-wide, but the article is generally sympathetic and draws the correct conclusion from the death of a relatively few members of a tiny religion which, on the whole, has existed peacefully in India.
Tomorrow, our synagogue hosts a communal memorial service for those who died in this massacre. It is fervently to be hoped that one day a majority of those in the Church of England will understand the real plight of the Palestinians, living under a Muslim regime which they fear, and the tremendous work carried out by Israel, sometimes clandestinely, to help those same Palestinians as best as they can, whilst simultaneously making every effort to safeguard the people of Israel, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, Druze, or 'other'.