The Chief Rabbi has criticised the silence of Muslim leaders in the fight against rising anti-Semitism.
Speaking at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem, Ephraim Mirvis hailed the “many outstanding friends” who were ready to “stand up and be counted” but complained they were the “exception to the rule”.
“The truth is that our journey is a frustrating one”, he told the gathering. “The rule is today that around the world, Muslim faith leaders are keeping schtum.”
He vented frustration that too often Muslim leaders had had “cold feet” before meetings with Jewish representatives, saying: “Time and again when I have established efforts to engage at the highest level – together with global Muslim clerics – at the last moment they have pulled out.”
He added, that “since the conclusion of the Shoah, within Jewish and Christian circles have been working very hard to improve our relationships. And we have made great strides.”
Urging leaders of all faiths to meet with him to discuss tackling the scourge, he said “let’s speak behind closed doors” if needs be. “The threat to Judaism and Jews from the world of Islam is one which can only be cured from within the world of Islam. And the leaders of Islam have to take a stand.”
Rabbi Mirvis praised the response to anti-Semitism of successive UK governments who “have always seen anti-Semitism not merely as a threat to the Jewish community, but rather a threat to all of our society. As a result the fight against anti-Semitism has always been led from the Prime Minister down”.
He paid tribute to Sir Eric Pickles, the UK’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, who was in the room, saying his position is a “is a reflection of the seriousness we take anti-Semitism in the country as a whole”.
During his trip to Israel, Chief Rabbi Mirvis met with Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein.
Last week, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led condemnation, after letters were posted around the UK calling on people to take part in a “Punish a Muslim Day”.
He said: saying: ““The horrific calls for a ‘punish a Muslim day’ over recent days are a sobering reminder of the depravity of Islamophobia. The reaction of the Jewish community is unequivocal. Threats of violence and prejudice directed at British Muslims undermine everything that it means to be British and are totally abhorrent.”
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”