A few days ago the organisations we represent – the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain – published an unprecedented joint statement. There should be little controversial in what it said about opposing antisemitism and Islamophobia, or stating that: “Whilst everyone has the right to voice their political opinion, there can be no excuse for racism, violence, or other forms of intimidation.” Yet of course the significance of the statement lies not only with what we have said, but also with the fact that we have chosen to stand together to say it. Though our communities and religious traditions have so much in common, relations between them have been delicate.
The primary reason for this difference lies, of course, over 2,000 miles away in the Middle East. Indeed, the conflict in Israel and Gaza over the past two months has placed a particular strain on Muslim-Jewish relations. For many Jews and Muslims in this country the conflict is personal, with relatives and co-religionists living under the shadow of war on both sides of the divide. [Read more…]