At a landmark Board of Deputies event in London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of his personal commitment to fighting antisemitism, the duty of care that universities have for their Jewish students and the historic relationship between the Church and the Jewish community.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed by historian and novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore at the event attended by more than 300 people at the historic Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, where the organisation was founded in 1760.
Archbishop Welby spoke of the universities’ responsibility to ensure that the Jewish students were not abused on campus. He said he was in favour of a “carrot and stick” approach. He said universities should be rewarded when they protected students but “there should be serious consequence, in terms of their recognition, their authority and their funding” if they fail in their duty of care. He added: “No one is entitled not to be offended – but everyone has the right not to be abused.”
On the Church’s history of antisemitism, Archbishop Welby said: “The Church unquestionably has a disgusting, shameful and horrendous history with the Jewish people in the early Middle Ages. He felt the Church had a need to repent for past wrongdoings. “I’ve always said that antisemitism is the root of all racism and the absolute foundation of all racism in our societies. If it’s permissible to hate Jews, it’s permissible to hate all others who are different to ourselves.”
He commended King Charles III for his commitment to being a monarch for all faiths. He said: “In 1953, there were fewer than 500,000 people of other faiths in the country. There are now several million and therefore if these communities were not included it would not reflect the make-up of the population of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Guests were greeted by Bevis Marks Rabbi Shalom Morris, by Board of Deputies Chief Executive Michael Wegier and by President Marie van der Zyl, who praised Archbishop Welby for his support through the antisemitism crisis: “For the Archbishop of Canterbury to publicly support the Jewish community at such a time was unprecedented. Archbishop Welby stood with us at a very dark hour – and we will never forget it. We are also most grateful, that at the same time, the Archbishop endorsed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which is supported by all major Jewish organisations in this country and has always done his utmost to remember the victims of the Shoah, to meet with survivors and to prioritise Holocaust remembrance.”
Photo: Nicholas Posner
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