The Church of England recently announced it would review its investments in companies whose products are used by Israel in the occupied territories. Chief UK Rabbi Jonathan Sacks criticised the move and claimed the decision would only inflame relations between the two religions.
Anglican churchmen have now responded. Canon Paul Oestreicher, a leading member of the church’s peace and reconciliation movement – and refugee from Nazi Germany – accuses Jewish groups of engaging in moral blackmail:
…The main objective of my writing today, is to nail the lie that to reject Zionism as it practised today is in effect to be anti-Semitic, to be an inheritor of Hitler’s racism. That argument, with the Holocaust in the background, is nothing other than moral blackmail. It is highly effective. It condemns many to silence who fear to be thought anti-Semitic. They are often the very opposite. They are often people whose heart bleeds at Israel’s betrayal of its true heritage.
I began with the recognition that the cancer of anti-Semitism has not been cured. Tragically, Israel’s policies feed it – and when world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel, but against all Jews. I wish it were mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible.
He bravely chastises the Zionist lobby for attempting to silence dissenting views on the conflict and abusing the “anti-Semitic” term. Oestreicher should be congratulated for articulating the growing sentiment of Jews and non-Jews worldwide. “My concern, however, is to express solidarity with the Israel that is not represented by its leaders or popular opinion”, he writes. I share this view.