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Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace
Justin Welby, rabbi and imam Israel Palestine conflict credit Neil TurnerLambeth Palace banner.jpg
Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace
World News

Welby joins UK faith leaders to condemn ‘deplorable’ antisemitism as hate crimes spike

by Heather Preston

The Archbishop of Canterbury has convened a multi-faith statement, calling for peace and solidarity between faith communities in the wake of rising antisemitic incidents in the UK.

The Most Rev Justin Welby was joined by Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, an Imam from Leicester and senior rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK, Jonathan Wittenberg, outside Lambeth Palace on Tuesday.

The three leaders are calling on British faith communities to unite as the conflict in the Middle East continues to intensify, and stand against any form of discrimination or hate.

Archbishop Welby said: “I know that all of us are profoundly concerned by what is happening in Israel and Gaza — and here at Lambeth Palace we are praying constantly for all those who are caught up in this war that has already brought so much suffering to so many people.

“But today, we have come together out of shared concern for our communities and neighbourhoods here in the UK, and to stand together against any form of hatred or violence against Jewish people or any other community”.

Since Hamas militants launched attacks on Israel ten days ago, there has been a sharp rise in reports of antisemetic incidents in the UK.

According to the Community Safety Trust (CST) such attacks have risen 500 per cent in comparison with the year before.

Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, former Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said he is “deeply pained” by the escalating events in Israel and Palestine and wishes to stand with his “dear friend” Rabbi Wittenberg to express their “shared commitment to protecting the relationship between our communities.”

Mogra has called for people to speak out against antisemitic and hateful attacks:

“It is deplorable and wrong that our Jewish community here has been the target of hate crimes. It is unacceptable that synagogues and Jewish centres have been targeted.

“I condemn these attacks and call on all fellow citizens to stand up and speak out against all and every form of hate.”

In the last week two Jewish girls’ primary schools in Stamford Hill, north London were vandalised. Red paint was thrown onto the external gates and doors of the buildings.

In response to such attacks, the government has provided an extra £3m to strengthen security at Jewish schools and synagogues.

Speaking of the need to maintain relationships between the UK's Jewish and Muslim communities, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said: "We have stood together through both peaceful and challenging days. As you say, we will sometimes have different loyalties, yet it is essential that we live together across the United Kingdom as neighbours and fellow citizens in peace and with respect.

"I share your prayers for an ultimate end to war. My prayers, too, are with all the innocent people caught up in this horror, for all those who are hurt and grieve, and all who long for the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones."

To date, at least 1,400 Israelis have died and thousands more have been injured in Hamas's attack on Israel. Some 200 hostages from Israel are still being held in Gaza. 

Meanwhile, at least 2,800 people have died in Gaza following Israel’s retaliatory air strikes on the territory, which is home to more than two million people.

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