Clare Short on Anti-Semitism

Dear Bishop Christopher,

I have read with great sadness the complaint which came to you through the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Stephen’s response.  I am afraid there is a pattern across many sectors of society of mobilising such complaints against people who criticise Israeli policy.  I believe this to be a very misguided policy, the history of anti semitism, particularly in Europe, has caused enormous evil, persecution and suffering, but to accuse anyone who is critical of Israeli policy, anti Semitic belittles the profound significance of anti semitism.  It is also being misused so widely that the accusation no longer has the power, a well informed accusation of anti semitism should have.

I have met Stephen at a variety of meetings and conferences and have read his most important work on Christian Zionism.  I hope that you have read it.  This movement is very powerful in the US and is I think gaining ground in the UK.  It is a complete distortion of the teachings of Christianity and is used to justify persecution, oppression and grave breaches of international law inflicted on the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian Christians who have been practising their religion in the Holy Land since Jesus moved amongst the places in which they live.  Stephen’s work in seeking peace and justice for all the people of the Holy Land follows Jesus’s teachings on the blessedness of peacemakers.

Stephen is not in the least way anti Semitic.  This is a disgraceful and completely false allegation and those who have made it should be held to account for their wickedness.  I hope you don’t mind me saying that you have made a serious mistake in letting this complaint run on for so long and thus letting the impression be given that there is any substance whatever to this complaint.  It has also wasted a lot of time and effort that should have been devoted to more important work.  I would like to suggest that you consider looking at whether a case has been made and then dismissing this nonsense.

Part of the evil that is being  done through this complaint, and similar complaints against others, is to frighten people from speaking out against the terrible injustices being inflicted on the Palestinian people. These complaints help to generate fear that similar hurtful and damaging allegations will be made against anyone who seeks to expose the grave breaches of international law being justified by Christian Zionists and those Israelis who favour Israel expanding its control over the whole of historical Palestine and therefore oppressing the whole Palestinian people causing terrible injustice and suffering.  In addition, these policies have helped to destabilise the wider Middle East and I am afraid in the long term will endanger Israel itself, as many wise Israelis have argued.

I hope you will be able to use the best of your wisdom  and live up to the best of Christian values in handling this complaint from now on.  I would be happy to arrange to meet with you to discuss the whole situation if you would find this helpful.

Best Wishes
Clare Short

 

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