Jewish stereotypes revealed in ugly Chuch of England debate

The Church of England’s decision to endorse the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel left a bitter taste in my mouth. The Jewish community and Christian friends expressed genuine concerns about EAPPI, and Synod disregarded them. But what troubled me as much was the language used in the debate.

The proposer of the motion, Dr John Dinnen, referred to the vast sums he decided had been spent producing a leaflet to explain the opposition to the motion.

What was in fact a modest double sided A4 leaflet “must have cost £1,000”. Another speaker spoke of “powerful lobbies” seeking to influence Synod.

Powerful lobbies, with money to buy influence? I have heard these sort of accusations before, but never thought I would hear them from the floor of the General Synod.

Dr Dinnen then shared a letter from Canon Paul Oestreicher who wrote that the actions of the Jewish community brought shame on the memory of his grandmother who died in the Holocaust.

So when the Jewish community expresses its views on an issue close to its heart, we are characterised as a powerful, monied lobby that shames the victims of the Shoah.

But before anyone decides that all Jews are part of this shadowy group, Dr Dinnen helpfully listed a number who supported his view.

These, apparently, are the Jews whose voices should be heard, because they agree with him. Indeed Dr Dinnen generously included one supporter in this camp because, well, “Esther Wolfson sounds like a Jewish name.”

By this stage of the debate the effort of differentiating between good Jews and bad Jews became a bit too much even for Dr Dinnen.

In his closing remarks he evoked the parable of the good Samaritan in which the uncaring Jews cross the street to avoid helping an injured man, and he concluded by saying that “the Palestinians are being pushed over, while the Jews are quite powerful,” before correcting himself and saying “Israelis” instead of “Jews”.

What might Freud, the Jew, have made of that?

Jonathan Arkush is vice-president of the Board of Deputies

Last updated: 6:21pm, July 17 2012