Anglican churchmen hit back yesterday in the increasingly ugly spat between the Church of England and the chief rabbi over the general synod’s call for disinvestment in a company making bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes. They denied that their criticism of Israeli government policy was tantamount to anti-semitism.
In today’s Guardian Canon Paul Oestreicher, a leading member of the church’s peace and reconciliation movement, who lost his Jewish grandmother in the Holocaust and was a refugee from Nazi Germany, says Jewish groups are engaging in moral blackmail in raising the issue of anti-semitism against critics of the Israeli government. He says: “The main objective of my writing today is to nail the lie that to reject Zionism as it is practised today is in effect to be anti-semitic, to be an inheritor of Hitler’s racism. That argument, with the Holocaust in the background, is nothing other than moral blackmail.
Precisely. Saying that opposing the Zionism policies of Israel means one is ant-semitic is like saying someone who opposes the policies of George Bush is anti-Christian. Not only is it absurd, it is also a deliberate twisting of the truth, made all the more noxious by Israel’s racist apartheid policy towards Palestinians.
“It is highly effective. It condemns many to silence who fear to be thought anti-semitic. They are often the very opposite. They are often people whose heart bleeds at Israel’s betrayal of its true heritage. When world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel but against all Jews. I wish it was mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible.”