Christians who regret Balfour: The caravan stops at Southwark

With less than a year to go to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the caravan of Christian regretters moves on. This autumn we had Hinde Street first, then Lichfield Cathedral. On Saturday the caravan stopped at Southwark Cathedral in London.

The Balfour Project aims to achieve “A greater public awareness of Britain’s role in the Middle East in the first half of the 20th century”. Sounds innocuous enough. But the reality appears to be very different. The Balfour Project is yet another vehicle for the vilification of Israel.

Just look at two of the speakers at Southwark Cathedral.

Robert Cohen is an ‘as-a-Jew’ (married to an Anglican Minister) who believes that all criticism of Israel is labelled as ‘antisemitic’. He also supports BDS.

In his ‘Letter to Anne Frank’ (written to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in 2012), Cohen asks:

“What have we done to your memory, Anne, when we choose to label every critic of Israel as anti-Semitic and every Palestinian a modern-day Nazi? In Israel, and throughout Diaspora Jewry, the Holocaust has been used to explain and justify every aggression, every Palestinian family dispossessed, every piece of land stolen, every house bulldozed, as necessary acts of security to prevent a second Holocaust.”

Of course criticism of Israel is NOT ‘labelled as antisemitic’. The falsehood that it is, is a device beloved of anti-Semites.

When Sir Vincent Fean was UK Consul General in Jerusalem (2010-2014), he appeared to ride roughshod over his diplomatic obligation “not to interfere in the internal affairs of the host state”. He wants the immediate creation of a Palestinian State, regardless of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not renounced violence and does not recognise Israel’s  right to exist. At 7:30 in this Balfour Project video (October 2013) he speaks of the ‘closure of Gaza’.  Gaza is not ‘closed’. Thousands of tonnes of goods go in from Israel every day. And of course Sir Vincent completely ignores Hamas terrorism – the reason why Israel must retain restrictions on free movement to and from Gaza.

Fortunately Mandy Blumenthal was at Southwark Cathedral to bear witness. Her account follows.

“How fitting that a day that commemorates an attempt by a Christian to blow up the Houses of Parliament was the day upon which the Church hosted an event aimed at the destruction of democracy.

While the Clergy and lay officials of Southwark Cathedral try to distance themselves from responsibility for hosting a hatefest that attacked amongst others the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies and Jews generally  – by saying they were ‘just taking a booking’ – the same people sat there laughing at the abuse given.

I doubt that fits in with the teaching of Jesus Christ (Jewish and Israeli) to “turn the other cheek”. The pure venom and hostility poured forth from the speakers accompanied by their “useful idiots”.

The first speakers were relatively inoffensive, compared to what came later. After one of the speakers declared that she was Palestinian, she decried the previous speakers’ failure to be strong enough in their condemnation of Israel. The reaction to her whipping-up of hatred was a loud round of applause.

I was unable to hold back as she spewed her anger and hatred.  Rather than condemnation of her bad tempered rage, she became the darling of the day. I reacted and said that what Britain needed to apologise for was not the Balfour Declaration, but its failure to implement it sooner and locking the gates of Israel, playing its part in the execution of The Final Solution. I pointed out the obvious – that six million Jews could have avoided the murder by the Nazis if the British had not blocked the escape.

I told them they needed to hold their heads in shame and that they don’t have any idea of the reality of life. All was saved for them by a Jewish speaker who could mollify their Jew hatred. Robert Cohen – a Jewish blogger and self-proclaimed anti-Zionist set out to attack Jews, plain and simple, Jews, no pretence that he was attacking Zionists.”

His target was the Chief Rabbi. On Kol Nidrei, I had been lucky enough to hear an amazing sermon from Chief Rabbi Mirvis. Today, in a Cathedral, the Chief Rabbi was totally ripped apart and ridiculed for supporting Zionism – apparently “it is not a part of being Jewish”. The audience was excited. They couldn’t stop clapping, they laughed as they were so happy – ‘A Jew against Jews’, fantastic, their anti-Semitism was justified, “some of their best speakers were Jewish”.

“Bob” didn’t stop with the Chief Rabbi, he set on to attack Jonathan Arkush and Mick Davis from the JLC. To them I was the enemy  – I was the only Zionist in the room. I was the one they hated, the one they called “disgusting”, and “deluded” they had their ‘Jews’ that hated Israel so it was OK to vilify me. Robert Cohen and the other “Yiddenfeits” poured forth, spitting out their abuse.

It was clear that for all the talk of cooperation between Christians and Jews, the reality is very different. It is not just that the speakers and audience hold such awful views but that the Church sanctions them. Remember, in the last 80 years more Jews have been murdered by Christians than anyone else.

Memo to Justin Welby: What use are your fine words condemning antisemitism when those in authority in churches and cathedrals are happy to host – and participate in – meetings which traduce Jews and Israel?

Fortunately there are many decent Christians in the UK who despair of their coreligionists who use every opportunity to traduce Israel……….


About the Author
Jonathan Hoffman is a blogger who has written for United With Israel, CiFWatch (now UK Media Watch), Harrys Place and Z-Word.
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