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UK – London Church Exhibit on West Bank Checkpoints Sparks Local Jews’ anti-Israel Fears
Intelligent ‘anti-Semitism’ for thinking Gentiles
Entitled ‘You cannot pass today,’ the display was organized to coincide with the World Council of Churches’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. Rabbi Barry Marcus of the Central Synagogue told the Times of London that he was concerned that the exhibition would demonize Israel. “Why the hell is a church wasting resources on fanning the flames of anti-Semitism? They should be ashamed.”
HAARETZ – Plans by a Methodist church in London to host an exhibit reconstructing an Israeli border checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank have unleashed a controversy in the British Jewish community.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement from its vice president, Marie van der Zyl, noting that “Israel’s security infrastructure comes in response to continued terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians,” and stating that the display at the Hinde Street Methodist Church in central London “looks like a one-sided exhibition, which puts unwelcome and unnecessary strain on Christian-Jewish relations.”
On its Facebook page, the organizers of the exhibition, which is entitled “You cannot pass today,” explain that the display was organized to coincide with the World Council of Churches’ World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which this year features the theme “dismantling barriers.”
According to the Facebook page: “It has been put together on the basis of principled impartiality. This means putting concern for human rights above support of any particular group and using international humanitarian law as the principle for impartiality.”
The Daily Mail Online noted that one Facebook user responded to the group’s post to the event, asking: “‘Where is your exhibition of what it is like to be blown up by a suicide bomber? Because the security fence has saved thousands of lives.”
And Rabbi Barry Marcus of the Central Synagogue, which is near the Hinde Street church, reportedly told the Times of London that he was concerned that the exhibition, which opens Monday, would demonize Israel. “Why the hell is a church wasting resources on fanning the flames of anti-Semitism? They should be ashamed.”
Michael Ivatt, the chief media officer for the British Methodist churches, said the exhibition had “been carefully curated to reflect the issues of divided communities within Israel and Palestine and to promote reflection and prayers for peace. The display seeks to explore aspects of human rights and dignity. There is no criticism or judgment of the Jewish community or faith,” the Jewish Chronicle of London reported.
UK – Bath Abbey exhibit denounced because it ‘promotes Jew-hatred’
TIMES OF ISRAEL – An exhibition at Bath Abbey, “Raising Voices, Holy Sites”, has been denounced by both Jews and Christians, with one Australian visitor claiming that through it, “the Church of England promotes Jew-hatred”.
The exhibition, which finishes on June 30, consists of 22 captioned photographs taken by the Abbey’s operations manager, Jon Hoffman, a former press photographer.
They were taken, the display informs visitors, “on a trip to Israel/Palestine in October 2015.” Mr Hoffman was accompanied by the Abbey’s rector, Edward Mason, Evelyn Lee-Barber, its curate) and Shean Bowers, the Abbey’s choral director for schools.
The pictures, say the Abbey, are “an important part of the Abbey’s work in speaking about justice and supporting the beleaguered church of Palestine”.
But a Board of Deputies spokesperson said: “This exhibition is clearly unbalanced and has outraged members of the Jewish community. The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) has offered advice and resources to the Abbey. We hope this leads to a less offensive display.”
Among the critics of the exhibition is Lord Reading, a leading member of the Anglo-Israel Association, who said: “I am ashamed of the Church of England, of which I have been a member since 1942 when we were threatened by other anti-Semites… the Nazis!
Elliot Steinberg, programme manager of the CCJ, said the council had been in touch with the Bishop of Taunton through its chair, Bishop Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, to ask that additional resources be included alongside the exhibition to try to add some alternative perspectives to those already offered.
He added: “We are also looking to work with the Abbey and with clergy following the exhibition to discuss some of the more problematic elements of the exhibition and resource, and have asked for a meeting with the Bishop to talk about this. We will focus particularly on the language used, and on continuing to engage and educate both Christian and Jewish communities to discuss the situation in Israel/Palestine in a way which considers its complexity and its importance to both faiths”.
Canadian Diane Weber Bederman, who visited the exhibition, complained directly to the Rev Mason about a variety of misrepresentations in the exhibition, including claims that “the Nakba [the Arabic term for ‘catastrophe’ ie. the creation of the state of Israel] is not taught to the Palestinians and that the system of education for Palestinians is designed to make them ignorant of [their] history.” She said such claims were “patently false”.