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by Stephen Oryszczuk

Interfaith observers are struggling to make sense of the past few weeks.

This week they heard a Christian leader address Jewish concerns by speaking out vehemently against anti-Semitism and an anti-Israel clergyman.

Tick.

One week earlier, anti-extremist organisation Faith Matters, which is dedicated to encouraging understanding between faiths, “warmly welcomed” a top rabbi as its new Patron.

Tick.

Before that, Jewish and Muslim leaders taught teenagers about the twin horrors of Srebrenica and the Holocaust, on their 20th and 70th anniversaries respectively. And before that, British Muslim leaders supported the British Jewish community after an Islamist gunman killed four Jewish customers in Paris.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Love was in the air, but with love so often comes heartbreak, and cracks began to appear last week, when Jewish and Christian leaders held an off-radar meeting.

They were at loggerheads over a church publication featuring a Jewish addict who turned to Jesus and a Palestinian who couldn’t get an Israeli visa while a Jewish American could.

A terse statement following the face-to-face fooled no one. Elsewhere, and very much on-radar, BBC’s Question Time was filmed Finchley and Golders Green, where anti-Israel politician George Galloway MP incurred the wrath of a boisterous audience he then accused of being both one-sided and ethnically homogenous.

“There was not a single Muslim person in the audience even though there are 50,000 Muslims in the borough,” he said, in obvious reference to the kippot on show.

While highly unlikely to be true, the rowdy Finchley faithful made it seem so, playing into the hands of a self-styled political martyr. It was far from our proudest moment.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Faith Matters then dropped Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet of Mill Hill shul over a tweet suggesting Palestinian supporters might hang themselves with his Israeli flag.

It was a good week, in short, for the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) to hold a seminar on trust.

So, what state interfaith relations? Despite the headlines, there’s more good news than bad [partly why we launched a dedicated interfaith section on our website]. And, despite the disagreements, we have more in common than not.

Witness the simultaneous uproar from Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders when the BBC this week said it was axing its Head of Religion post as the perfect example.

Trust the Beeb to bring unity through anger.

Voice of the Jewish News

Voice of the Jewish News