Chief Rabbis to meet Archbishop of Canterbury

By staff writers
September 3, 2006

Chief Rabbis to meet Archbishop of Canterbury

-03/09/06

Campaigners have expressed their hopes that a meeting this week between Israel's Chief Rabbis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, will not lead to a softening of the Archbishop's stance on disinvestment in companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, are due to travel to London this week for a special meeting with Rowan Williams on Tuesday.

The meeting at Lambeth Palace comes after controversy earlier this year when the Church of England's General Synod ('Parliament') voted in favour of disinvesting "from companies profiting from the illegal occupation" by Israel of Palestinian territory.

Rowan Williams was amongst those who voted in favour of the motion. However the vote brought criticism from amongst others, Britain's chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and some even branded the vote 'anti-Semitic'.

On Tuesday, a joint declaration to establish a new joint dialogue process is expected to be signed. It is hoped the new process will improve relations between the archbishop and other religious leaders, in particular in the Middle East where the initiative has been welcomed by the bishops of the Anglican churches. It is also hoped it will lead to better understanding and a strengthening of interfaith relationships in the Middle East and beyond.

The declaration follows ongoing discussions over the years between the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel about strengthening relations and creating a framework for a continuing process of dialogue.

"I am delighted that we are now able to establish this important dialogue which enables religious leaders to discuss matters of concern. The more we are able to develop ways of listening to one's concerns and interest, the better our understanding will be of one another's hopes and fears," Rowan Williams said.

Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has welcomed the meeting. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, he talked about the press's portrayal of the issues relating to the conflict, saying it "doesn't always present a balanced picture or provide the full context" and the implications it has on the church's decisions.

"Anyone exposed to that media can be forgiven for taking a less generous view of Israel. But there is an issue there and it exists within the Church, so the meeting is important," he said.

"The most important thing to achieve is genuine conversation in which the voice of Israel can be heard and heard in a way appropriate to a religious leader, mainly through other religious leaders - the chief rabbis of Israel.

"I think the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury personally have welcomed this initiative and we see it as an important one.

The Anglican Communion is an important body and the Archbishop of Canterbury is an important person," Sacks said.

Asked if he thought, following the archbishop's support for divestment, Williams was hostile towards Israel, Sacks said: "I've always personally found him to be a very good listener and he is what he calls a critical friend of Israel which means he strives for balance in his views.

"He's a very serious and thoughtful individual with whom I have a strong and personal friendship and I've always found him to be very open and I have signalled publicly and privately that for the Anglican Church to be a force for peace, it must hear both sides. There is no other way.

"Therefore I think this is the beginning of something and an important symbol that the ear of the church is open to the Jewish, and indeed, the Israeli voice."

But Reverend Stephen Sizer, a campaigner for divestment told The Jerusalem Post: "On one level I'm pleased it's happening; any meeting between faith leaders is good.

"On the other hand, I am mindful. I hope that the Jewish leaders will not be going to fulfil another agenda and hope it won't be to put pressure on Rowan Williams to modify the stance he took on Caterpillar and divestment and by saying it is ruining Jewish-Christian relations."

Chief Rabbis to meet Archbishop of Canterbury

-03/09/06

Campaigners have expressed their hopes that a meeting this week between Israel's Chief Rabbis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, will not lead to a softening of the Archbishop's stance on disinvestment in companies profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, are due to travel to London this week for a special meeting with Rowan Williams on Tuesday.

The meeting at Lambeth Palace comes after controversy earlier this year when the Church of England's General Synod ('Parliament') voted in favour of disinvesting "from companies profiting from the illegal occupation" by Israel of Palestinian territory.

Rowan Williams was amongst those who voted in favour of the motion. However the vote brought criticism from amongst others, Britain's chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and some even branded the vote 'anti-Semitic'.

On Tuesday, a joint declaration to establish a new joint dialogue process is expected to be signed. It is hoped the new process will improve relations between the archbishop and other religious leaders, in particular in the Middle East where the initiative has been welcomed by the bishops of the Anglican churches. It is also hoped it will lead to better understanding and a strengthening of interfaith relationships in the Middle East and beyond.

The declaration follows ongoing discussions over the years between the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel about strengthening relations and creating a framework for a continuing process of dialogue.

"I am delighted that we are now able to establish this important dialogue which enables religious leaders to discuss matters of concern. The more we are able to develop ways of listening to one's concerns and interest, the better our understanding will be of one another's hopes and fears," Rowan Williams said.

Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has welcomed the meeting. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, he talked about the press's portrayal of the issues relating to the conflict, saying it "doesn't always present a balanced picture or provide the full context" and the implications it has on the church's decisions.

"Anyone exposed to that media can be forgiven for taking a less generous view of Israel. But there is an issue there and it exists within the Church, so the meeting is important," he said.

"The most important thing to achieve is genuine conversation in which the voice of Israel can be heard and heard in a way appropriate to a religious leader, mainly through other religious leaders - the chief rabbis of Israel.

"I think the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury personally have welcomed this initiative and we see it as an important one.

The Anglican Communion is an important body and the Archbishop of Canterbury is an important person," Sacks said.

Asked if he thought, following the archbishop's support for divestment, Williams was hostile towards Israel, Sacks said: "I've always personally found him to be a very good listener and he is what he calls a critical friend of Israel which means he strives for balance in his views.

"He's a very serious and thoughtful individual with whom I have a strong and personal friendship and I've always found him to be very open and I have signalled publicly and privately that for the Anglican Church to be a force for peace, it must hear both sides. There is no other way.

"Therefore I think this is the beginning of something and an important symbol that the ear of the church is open to the Jewish, and indeed, the Israeli voice."

But Reverend Stephen Sizer, a campaigner for divestment told The Jerusalem Post: "On one level I'm pleased it's happening; any meeting between faith leaders is good.

"On the other hand, I am mindful. I hope that the Jewish leaders will not be going to fulfil another agenda and hope it won't be to put pressure on Rowan Williams to modify the stance he took on Caterpillar and divestment and by saying it is ruining Jewish-Christian relations."

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