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A just war? That’s just not Jewish, says ex-envoy

    Milton Keynes and District Reform Synagogue has honoured Martin Neville MBE as Chatan Torah and Leslie De Mattos as Kalat Bereshit for their outstanding contribution to the community (Photo: Shelly Chapman)
    Milton Keynes and District Reform Synagogue has honoured Martin Neville MBE as Chatan Torah and Leslie De Mattos as Kalat Bereshit for their outstanding contribution to the community (Photo: Shelly Chapman)

    Peter Jenkins, Britain’s former representative on the International Atomic Energy Agency, has told the debating union at Warwick University that a just war is not a Jewish notion.

    In a video released this week, the retired Foreign Office diplomat, speaking in a recent debate on nuclear proliferation in Iran, said: “Israelis don’t practise an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, they practise ten eyes for an eye and ten teeth for a tooth.

    “The idea that a just war requires the use of force to be proportionate seems to be a Christian notion and not a Jewish notion.”

    The remark prompted opposition speaker Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy, to call out “shame”.

    He later told the audience: “I suggest that the speech that we heard first, laced with its subtle attempts at antisemitism, masked behind polite diplomatic chatter is exactly the problem in this debate… this is not a Jewish issue, this is not an Israel issue, this is a worldwide issue.”

    Later, Mr Sacerdoti added: “It is incredible to think that a man unashamed to express such a view in public, once had such a senior position on behalf of the UK.

    “This particular view, that Jews do not adhere to the concept of ‘just war’ implies that Jews are by nature bloodthirsty and unjust. I believe any such generalisation about the nature of Jews is racist.”

    The Community Security Trust also moved to condemn Mr Jenkins’ remarks. A spokesman said: “It is disgusting that students should be exposed to such divisive rubbish. Peter Jenkins appears to be as ignorant of the history of Christian war-making as he is of Jewish values.”

    The president of Warwick Debating Society, Richard Hopps, said the society did not support remarks of an antisemitic or racist nature.

    He said: “We have spoken to the speaker in question, and he assures us that his remarks were not intended to appear as antisemitic in any way — and we hope that this wasn’t his intention.”

    Peter Jenkins this week released a statement which said: “My comments have been severely misinterpreted and I had no intention of offending anyone.”

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