Jewish leaders have praised the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby for admitting that the Church of England “compounded the spread” of anti-Semitism.
Writing in ‘Lessons Learned,’ a collection of essays produced by the Holocaust Educational Trust and Community Security Trust and published on Sunday, Welby said the church should be embarrassed by its historic role.
“It is a shameful truth that, through its theological teachings, the church, which should have offered an antidote, compounded the spread of this virus,” he wrote.
“The fact that anti-Semitism has infected the body of the Church is something of which we as Christians must be deeply repentant. We live with the consequences of our history of denial and complicity.”
Board of Deputies’ president Jonathan Arkush praised Welby’s intervention as “powerful and timely,” adding: “Millennia of theological anti-Semitism against Jews – including the canard that Jews killed Jesus – permeate European thought.”
The joint HET-CST booklet also showcases a Tory minister blasting “dinner party anti-Semitism,” with Communities Secretary Sajid Javid taking aim at “respectable middle-class people”.
He said “dinner party anti-Semites… would recoil in horror if you accused them of racism, but are quite happy to repeat modern takes on age-old myths about Jews”.
He said they “can’t condemn the murder of Jewish children in France without a caveat criticising the Israeli government” and “demand that a Jewish-American artist declare support for Palestine if he wants to perform at a festival in Spain”.
He added: “I can’t remember the last time I spoke to a Jewish friend or colleague who hasn’t, at some point, found themselves sitting awkwardly at a party while a fellow guest railed against the international ‘kosher conspiracy’.”
Elsewhere in the booklet, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said that there were “lines which must not be crossed” in acceptable discourse.
He said: “Public debate… must be respectful and sensitive. In a Jewish context, that means recognising that both the Holocaust and the idea of Jewish self-determination are at the very core of mainstream Jewish identity.”
In his essay, London Mayor Sadiq Khan says: “Whenever anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, I’ll be the first to call it out, condemn it and then work to stamp it out. I’ve been clear – we must do all we can to root out antisemitism wherever we find it – and, yes – that includes within the Labour party.”