On Kindertransport anniversary, Archbishop urges vigilance on antisemitism

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On Kindertransport anniversary, Archbishop urges vigilance on antisemitism

Anglican leader addresses event at Lambeth Palace marking 80 years since the rescue operation of European Jewish children

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that people must be vigilant against antisemitism and stressed British Jews are as British as anyone else.

The Most Rev Justin Welby was speaking at an event at Lambeth Palace on Monday commemorating the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht and Kindertransport.

Mr Welby warned that antisemitism can lead to prejudice and discrimination against other religions.

He added: “We come today to remember and give thanks for the Kindertransport and we come to mourn the events of Kristallnacht, but we also come to say ‘let us be vigilant’.

“We know from that terrible period that if even one religious or ethnic group is targeted, it’s a threat to them all.”

Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, saw thousands of Jews subjected to terror and violence with buildings and synagogues destroyed and vandalised.

Later that month the British Government agreed to allow unaccompanied Jewish children to enter the country.

During the Kindertransport nearly 10,000 Jewish children fleeing central Europe were accepted into the UK.

The Lambeth Palace event was organised by the Council of Christians and Jews, which was founded by the Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz and Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple In 1942.

Mr Welby extended a hand of friendship to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and all British Jews.

He added: “What I want to say to him and to all British Jews is that you are as British as anyone else.

“It shouldn’t need to be said but people have denied it in recent times.

“You’re not adopted British, you are British. You’re exactly the same as the rest of the country, indistinguishable, and I want to promise on this anniversary that you have a friend here.”

Mr Welby said it was the duty of organisations like the CCJ to be “watchmen on the walls” against hatred.

He added: “The lessons of Kristallnacht is what can happen when the watchman on the wall fails to watch adequately.

“The lesson of Kindertransport is what may happen when we seek the common good.”

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said religion was too often the cause of conflict, instead of encouraging peace.

He added: “Religion exists in this world in order to encourage peace, to indigene harmony under the banner of coexistence, to enable people to co-operate together, leading ultimately to utopia on earth.

“We need to shamefully recognise that far too often religion has been the problem far too often that so many of the great conflicts on earth have been caused by religion, up to and including the Holocaust.”

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