Thinking Anglicans

Church of England bishops adopt antisemitism definition

Press release from Church of England

Bishops adopt international definition of antisemitism

During the annual residential meeting of the College of Bishops, which is taking place in Oxford, they agreed a joint statement endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism – including all of its examples – on behalf of the Church.

They also issued a call to everyone in public life to reject any language or actions which could cause “prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs”.

The Church of England’s interfaith team and national advisers already use the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism as the benchmark in their work and ministry.

However, the bishops noted the “necessity of making explicit” the Church’s adoption of and adherence to the definition without qualification or exemption.

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also spoke of the need for the Church of England to adopt the definition formally.

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said: “The Jewish community, among whom I live in Salford, carry with them the vivid memory and scars of the Holocaust; they know all too well that antisemitism is never far below the surface of our society.

“Today’s statement from the Church of England bishops assures them that we will continue to reject such prejudice and bigotry firmly, in line with our practice over 75 years.

“At the same time we will continue to speak out critically when governments here and elsewhere act in ways that our faith calls us to challenge.”

The full statement adopted by the College of Bishops reads:

“In the context of 75 years of friendship marked by the establishment of the Council of Christians and Jews, the Church of England’s College of Bishops now notes the necessity of making explicit its adoption of and adherence to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, including all examples, without qualification or exemption.

“We urge anyone involved in our political, spiritual and national life to reject all language and activity that leads to prejudice, stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origins, identity or beliefs.”

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Jo B
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Jo B

Disappointing that the CofE have decided to throw Palestinians under the bus to score political points. Either this is pure theatre or they really do intend to accuse people of anti-Semitism for pointing out that the State of Israel was created on a racist basis.

Peter Spychal
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Peter Spychal

@Jo B
Why do people single out Israel as being created as a racist state and not the others? US, Canada, Australia, India and Pakistan and no doubt many others all have laws right now, in 2018, referencing individual racial groups which have been there in some form since the states’ formed themselves.

The difference I perceive is that Israel is Jewish (as England is Christian) and people on the left racistly label Jews as bourgeois and privileged therefore oppressors.

Jo B
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Jo B

Australia has at least made moves in the direction of ending the “white Australia” policy, and you will find plenty of support on the left for commemoration of Invasion Day. Canada has tried, certainly imperfectly, to rectify its treatment of its First Nations and atone for the crimes it committed. The US revoked the 3/5ths compromise and passed the 13th and 14th amendments, though the treatment of Native Americans is still awful. Each of them has made moves away from the racist aspects of their foundation, and those on the left in each country are continuing to make progress in… Read more »

Peter Spychal
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Peter Spychal

A very specific set of circumstances exists in Israel, a history of immigration and subsequent brutal displacement of Palestinians which occurred because of decades of expulsions from other states in the Middle East and Europe. To pretend that offering safe harbour to these people, who were fleeing anti Semitism out of necessity, was racist is itself anti-Semitic.

The house of Bishops has done the right thing here.

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

And what about the 1.5 million Israeli Arab citizens who do not want a Palestinian state.They have the vote, representation in the Knesset and a judge on the Supreme Court.

Jo B
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Jo B

Which particular 1.5 million Israeli Arab citizens? Certainly many would be happy with equal rights for Arab citizens rather than their current second class status, but plenty want to see the liberation of the occupied territories even if they don’t necessarily want to live in them themselves. Certainly Arab Israeli Knesset representatives have strongly defended Jeremy Corbyn in recent weeks and commended his support for Palestinians.

Geoff McL.
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Geoff McL.

“The difference I perceive is that Israel is Jewish (as England is Christian) and people on the left racistly label Jews as bourgeois and privileged therefore oppressors.”

In Canada, many of the voices raised in solidarity against the occupation in Palestine are the same ones testifying against the genocidal foundations of the Canadian state, so so much for that theory.

RPNewark
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RPNewark

Jo, let’s be clear. This is the HoB throwing the Palestinians “under the bus”. It is *not* the CofE. This is yet another example of the disconnect between the “purple shirts” and the Christians in the pews who are trying to show the inclusive love of God to a country that has lost its way.

Michael
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Michael

In this instance,I applaud the House of Bishops for doing manifestly the right thing

Roderick Gillis
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Roderick Gillis

“Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

This is a clearly delineated position. Christianity has a long history of antisemitism. It persists still in our liturgical and proclamation resources. So a good decision by the bishops to adopt the definition.

Also, Canada, Australia, the United States are all white settler states. Problems are ongoing in all three with regard to systemic racism.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

How interesting that the Church of England House of Bishops should make this announcement in the same week as the Prime Minister raised this issue at PMQs.
We knew that the CofE is the Tory Party at prayer. But this timing is beyond suggestive.

Jo B
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Jo B

I think it’s simple cowardice and trying to duck a complex issue by siding with the pro-Israel establishment position. I don’t think the Bishops are necessarily tories, most of them are probably of the Tim Farron type of lib dems or the Blairite wing of Labour.