Archbishop Exclusive: ‘My Cousin The Rabbi’

Justin Welby’s comments, on the eve of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral today, came during an interview with the Jewish News in which he also voiced opposition to Israel boycotts, revealed plans to visit the Jewish state this summer and praised the Chief Rabbi as “one of the most significant religious thinkers”.

The past few months since being named as Archbishop have been transformative for Welby, not just because of his elevation within the Church of England but because he learned for the first time – as a result of a Daily Telegraph investigation – of his family’s Jewish roots.

Chemist Dr Gerhard Weiler, a cousin of the Archbishop’s father Gavin, fled with his family after Hitler came to power, later being registered as an “enemy alien” in the UK.

The 57-year-old former bishop of Durham said he was “really, really pleased” to discover details of his Jewish ancestry, but added: “It’s quite sobering to think I had a bunch of second cousins that didn’t escape.”

The great-grandfather of the man who will be formally confirmed today as the leader of 80 million Anglicans worldwide, along with three of his brothers, headed to London more than four decades earlier. The father-of-five told the Jewish News: “Once we’ve moved in properly, we’re going to meet up with some cousins who I had no idea about. One of them is a rabbi who recently wrote to me. He’s one of the senior teachers at a Jewish college in London. We’ll try to meet up, or get them to Lambeth Palace to do something fun to celebrate. To discover you’ve got a family you didn’t know about is really exciting.”

He also revealed he hopes to visit the grave at Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green of his great-grandmother Amalie, who lived in Hampstead until her death in 1914. The Cambridge-educated former oil executive comes to office just eight months after Anglican-Jewish relations were severely strained when the Church’s Synod voted to affirm support for a programme accused by the Board of Deputies of producing “very partisan activists” on the Middle East.

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel takes participants to the region for around three months, but critics point out that only a fraction of that time is spent in Israel, before accompaniers return to give public talks about their experiences. The private member’s motion also expressed support for Israelis and Palestinians working for peace and for aid agencies in the region.

Welby said last summer’s vote – on which he abstained – had “clearly” damaged relations.

And in an unusual step he said: “On reflection, I’d have voted against. I wasn’t quite up to speed when I went into that vote. I think the situation in the holy land is so complicated that we always have to show we recognise this and I don’t think the motion adequately reflected reflected the complexity.”

He said he would have wanted something added to the text saying the Jewish state, like any other legitimate country, has the right to “live in security and peace within internationally-agreed borders and the people of the region have the right to justice, peace and security, whoever they are.”

While Welby said the situation caused by the Synod vote was “a concern and something we keep an eye on”, he stressed that he was not in a position to instruct the democratic Synod on how to vote.

Given that the EAPPI is not a CoE initiative, he added, it also wasn’t in the church’s “gift” to introduce a system of oversight of presentations made by returning participants, as urged by community leaders amid concern over the content of some talks.

But the 105th Archbishop wanted to “encourage” an “excellent” proposa, recently announced, for participants to spend a weekend with a Jewish family in Haifa.

The Archbishop – who said interfaith relations have always been “very important” to him – has gained vast experience in the field of reconciliation over the past decade, lecturing on the subject at the US State Department and undertaking work in Africa and elsewhere.

Asked whether he planned to voice his views on overcoming the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the 57-year-old said his reconciliation work had, in fact, taught him to speak out “extremely carefully… and only if I think I can make a significant difference.”

Welby said he was “very much looking forward” to making his first visit to Israelin his new role in June, when he will continue the series of meetings started by Dr Rowan Williams with Israel’s chief rabbies. “My wife and I went on honeymoon there and it’ll be her first time back since.”

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Miliband: ‘My Debt To Israel’

His comments came during a session with 300 community members last Thursday, organised in partnership with the Board of Deputies, at which the Labour leader also stressed the importance of religious practises being preserved and fiercely condemned George Galloway’s recent refusal to debate with an Israeli.

Offering a glimpse into how his background informs his views, Miliband, who is bidding to become Britain’s second Jewish-born premier in 2015, recalled visiting his grandmother in Israel when he was aged just seven and asking about the identity of relative in a photograph on the mantelpiece. “My grandmother teared up,” he said. “It was her husband who’d been killed in the camps. From that moment onwards, I realised the state of Israel was giving my grandmother incredible sanctuary. So, I have huge respect, admiration and a debt not just to Britain but also to Israel.”

While he told the audience at the Royal College of Surgeons that “it doesn’t mean I always agree with the government of Israel”, he added: “I am totally intolerant of those who question Israel’s right to exist – totally intolerant.”

Asked by one audience member if he’d describe himself as a Zionist, Miliband said: “The answer is ‘yes’, because I consider myself a supporter of Israel. I think it’s important… that as somebody who supports not only Israel’s right to exist but has huge respect for what Israel does. I count myself in that category.”

But following a flurry of media reports on those comments and frenzied debate on Twitter, a Labour source later stressed: “Ed did not use the word ‘Zionist’ to describe himself” but had “made absolutely clear that he is a strong supporter of Israel”.

On boycotts, the Leader of the Opposition left no room for interpretation, describing such campaigns as “totally wrong”. He added: “We should have no tolerance of boycotts. I’d say that to any trade union leader, any Labour Party member, anybody who asked me. How do you create a two-state solution? Not with boycotts.”

Becoming the highest profile political figure to wade into Galloway’s recent walkout from a debate at Oxford. He told the gathering he’d been “shocked” by the Respect MP’s “shameful behaviour”.

Turning to some of the most pressing issues facing the Jewish state, Miliband expressed hope that the incoming Israeli administration will help advance the two-state solution. Pressed by Board vice-president Jonathan Arkush on Iran, he echoed the British Government by urging a “twin track” approach of sanctions and attempts at negotiation.

“No, it isn’t bound to work,” he conceded. “But it’s absolutely essential that we pursue that with all the vigour we can.”

Quizzed on domestic issues, the Labour chief pledged to accept for as long as he heads the party the right of the community to perform circumcision and religious slaughter and to “look in to” a new proposal to make studying a foreign language in primary school compulsory from next year (currently Hebrew is not one of seven designated languages).

Miliband said after the event: “It was a great privilege to
address the Board of Deputies at the Jewish News-sponsored event and have the opportunity to answer questions on a range of subjects. I’d like to thank everyone who took part.”

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Coalition Marks ‘Direction Change’ for Israeli Politics

As the Jewish News went to press, Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners were putting the finishing touches to an agreement. The prime minister will form a government with his two likeliest partners – the centrist Yesh Atid led by former journalist Yair Lapid and the religious-nationalist Jewish Home, led by former commando and high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett. They carry 19 and 12 Knesset seats respectively.

And, after decades as kingmakers, the ultra-Orthodox finally look to have been pushed from power. The last-minute deal was struck only two days before the expiry of a deadline extension, and just a week ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit.

Netanyahu will remain PM. His 31-seat Likud-Beitenu will also take the Interior and Defence ministries, while the post of Foreign Minister is being reserved for Avigdor Lieberman, pending the outcome of his trial.

Newcomer Lapid looks set to take on the mantle of Finance Minister, with Bennett taking Industry and Trade. Meanwhile, Yesh Atid’s Shai Piron is slated to be Education Minister – a hotly contested position during negotiations.

A statement released by BICOM on Wednesday evening stated: “The new government marks a significant change of direction for Israeli politics, with the exclusion of the ultra-Orthodox parties and the entry of a range of disparate parties who agree on ending ultra-Orthodox exemption from national service and a better deal for the middle class.”

Prior to Wednesday’s late-night handshakes, Netanyahu had already attracted Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister whose new party’s main policy is to cut a deal with the Palestinians. She becomes Justice Minister and is to take head a new team charged with reinvigorating the peace talks. With time running out, tensions between the potential partners had been rising, with misgivings aired in public. Netanyahu had earlier blasted both Bennett and Lapid for working together to “boycott” the ultra-Orthodox parties, a claim the pair rejected.

Meanwhile, the ultra–Orthodox parties – edged out of government for the first time in decades – reacted angrily to the news. Shas leader Arieh Deri attacked Netanyahu, saying: “History will judge sternly the person who lent his hand to this situation. Your excuses will not survive its strict scrutiny.”

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We Team Up With Tzedek To Help Fight Poverty

The initiative follows an investigation last week into the provision of food, shelter and advice to homeless Jews in London, an exposure that has subsequently led to a large number of Jewish News readers making individual pledges of support over the past few days.

Tzedek, which focuses on fighting poverty, is one of 33 national charities supporting the international Live Below The Line campaign, which challenges participants to live on &£1 a day for five days, to get a sense of the experience felt by 1.4billion people around the world.

Tzedek’s chief executive Jude Williams said: “We are very excited to have the Jewish News as our official media partner for the Live Below the Line fundraising campaign. The Jewish News offers us the chance to spread the word about this worthwhile campaign and recruit participants from throughout the British Jewish community, giving them a window into the day-to-day lives of people living in extreme poverty, while raising vital funds for our fight against global hunger.”

Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said: “After focusing on the hidden plight of Jews in London struggling to make ends meet, this is a timely opportunity to highlight the issue of poverty by involving Londoners in a simple idea – living on next to nothing. We’ve noticed how the wider community seems to feel removed from – and ignorant of – the poorest among us, so Live Below The Line helps us all to relate to these difficulties – if only for five days.”

More than 20,000 people across three continents are planning to spend a week living below the extreme poverty line – defined by the World Bank using Purchasing Power Parity as $1.25 US dollars a day in 2005.
Converting this to the 2005 equivalent for the UK and adjusting for inflation, the extreme poverty line would be £1.

Over the coming weeks, the Jewish News will feature a series of opinion pieces and case studies, detailing the impact of poverty and the practical action that can be taken by us all to alleviate these issues.

Find out more at www.livebelowtheline.org.uk

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Miliband: I’ve No Tolerance with Boycotts

The Labour leader’s comments came as he was quizzed on a wide range of Jewish and general issues at a question and answer session, organised by the Jewish News in partnership with the Board of Deputies.

Asked whether he was a Zionist, Miliband said: “Yes, I am a supporter of Israel.” Widespread debate followed on Twitter, with Respect MP George Galloway among those to weigh in with their thoughts, but Miliband’s office have since claimed that the comments were misinterpreted, and that the politician was simply emphasizing his support for the state.

While stressing that he didn’t always agree with Israeli policies, he stressed: “I have no tolerance for boycotts” and would be happy to say so to trade unionists. “You don’t create a two-state solution with boycotts.” And he stressed that “we should have no tolerance” for those who question Israel’s right to exist. Miliband once again spoke of how his upbringing helped propel him to high office and of his family’s experiences in fleeing the Nazis.

“I have respect, admiration and indeed a debt to Israel for the sanctuary it gave my grandmother,” he said. Turning to other issues, he spoke of the importance of protecting shechita and brit milah and insisted that Galloway’s recent refusal to debate with an Israeli at Oxfo0rd University had been “shameful”.

The event – attended by a capacity audience of 300 including Louise Ellman, London Assembly member Andrew Dismore and columnist Jonathan Freedland – also saw Miliband being presented with a seder plate and haggada by Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer and Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies.

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Ed Miliband Set To Meet Jewish News Readers at Q&A Event

Miliband said: “It will be a great privilege to address the Board of Deputies. It is an institution which for hundreds of years has not only served Britain’s Jewish community but ensured the voice of that community is heard fairly across the United Kingdom.”

Board President Vivian Wineman said: “We’re delighted to provide an exciting platform through which members from across the community can engage with the leader of the opposition and explore the issues at the heart of the
concerns of our community. It’s also great to be partnering with the Jewish News, which has a track record for delivering top-quality grass-roots political events.”

As with the Douglas Alexander event earlier this month, Iran’s nuclear programme, the campaign to proscribe Hezbollah, the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace and Labour’s support are likely to top the agenda at next month’s event.

The man hoping to become Britain’s second Jewish prime minister in 2015 is also likely to also be quizzed on faith schools, shechita and the delegitimisation of the Jewish state in the UK. Among those who have also participated in Jewish News Q&A sessions over the past three years are Nick Clegg, William Hague, Boris Johnson and the then foreign secretary, David Miliband.

• To book free tickets, email info@bod.org.uk with your name, contact details and how many tickets you’d like. The event starts at 7pm.

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Forward or backward? Moment of Truth for Lib Dem-Jewish Relations as Clegg Decides Fate of David Ward

The Bradford East MP was censured by his party’s chief whip two weeks ago after writing, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust could, within a few years of liberation, be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians in the new state of Israel – and continue to do so”. Despite issuing an apology for “unintended offence” and pledging not to use the term “the Jews” again in that context, he later emailed the Jewish News asking if it would be more acceptable to replace the words “the Jews” with “the Jewish community”.

Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael met Ward over those emails on Monday and has since invoked the party’s full disciplinary procedures – which allow for a member’s possible suspension from the party or, in the most severe cases, permanent removal of the whip. A Lib Dem source said: “The chief whip was previously given an undertaking there would be no repetition of this language. On the face of it the emails to the Jewish News would appear a breach of that undertaking.”
Under the party’s procedures, Carmichael and Ward must now be joined at a further meeting by the party’s leader and deputy leader, but Nick Clegg’s participation in G8 talks in Mozambique prevents this from taking place before the weekend.
Carmichael told the Jewish News however that the parley would take place “at the earliest opportunity. It would be wrong to prejudge the outcome of that meeting. Obviously the use of these procedures is a very rare occurrence and is an indication of the seriousness the party attaches to this situation.”
While falling short of saying if further action would be taken against Ward when quizzed by Conservative MP Robert Halfon asked in the Commons on Tuesday, the deputy prime minister said: “I am unambiguous in my condemnation of anyone from any party including my own who uses insensitive, intemperate, provocative and offensive language to describe a long-running conflict about which people have very strong feelings. Everybody is duty bound to choose their words carefully and tread carefully when entering into this very heated debate.”
Following a Downing Street meeting last Thursday, Jewish community leaders said the chief whip had made clear the new case would be pursued in the context of a commitment by Carmichael in last week’s Jewish News that if “anything of this sort” happened again the consequences “would escalate significantly” beyond the official censure already imposed.” The leaders also pointed to the fact the original offending statement remains on Ward’s website. Speaking at Jewish News’ latest Q and A event last week, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, describing Ward’s words as “repugnant”, urged the Lib Dems to “be true to their word” about what would happen if sentiments were repeated. The JLC Jeremy Newmark said last night: “We respect the need to the chief whip to follow party processes and understand that the party leader’s overseas trip has contributed to the delay. However we are confident that this is being taken seriously and that there is an understanding that the timeframe is not elastic. Party processes must allow for swift action on anti-Semitism.” The Board of Deputies Jon Benjamin said Ward’s defiance “appears to be escalating rather than abating”. Weighing into the latest row, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel Chairman Gavin Stollar said: “David Ward continues to dig himself into a hole. I was always taught when you’re in a hole stop digging.” The BBC reported that Ward acknowledged there was a “difference of opinion” on whether he had breached the party’s standing orders. He added; “I have already apologised. It’s a question about finding a form of words that make it possible for me to continue to ask questions about these things that are allowed to happen year after year.”

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sorry seems to be the hardest ward

The Liberal Democrat MP who used Holocaust Memorial Day to accuse “the Jews” of atrocities against the Palestinians faced further punishment last night after asking whether he could repeat the criticism using the term “Jewish community” instead.

Bradford East MP David Ward was formally censured by his party after writing, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust could, within a few years of liberation, be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians in the new state of Israel – and continue to do so”.

But despite issuing an apology for “unintended offense” and a written pledge not to use the words “the Jews” again in that context, the offending statement still remains on the politician’s website.

And last night, as chief whip Alistair Carmichael pledged that that action against Ward would “escalate significantly” if anything of “this sort ever happens again”, Ward wrote to the Jewish News: “Can you ask the Board of Deputies if they’re in agreement that I should replace the words ‘the Jews’ with ‘the Jewish community’? If so, I am perfectly happy to do so.”
Earlier in an email exchange with the Jewish News – in which Ward was given no less than three opportunities to say when the statement would be removed from his site but failed to do so – he asked: “Can you provide me with a more acceptable choice of words that I could use to criticise the treatment of the Palestinians?”

The latest slur came as the Jewish News learnt that community leaders, including representatives of the Jewish Leadership Council, are to meet senior Lib Dem figures over the Ward issue in Downing Street today.

Even before the MP’s words to the Jewish News, community leaders insisted the party had not gone far enough in taking action against him, with some even calling for the whip to be withdrawn. While stopping short of such a call in a statement on Monday, the Board of Deputies – which has written to Nick Clegg over the matter – pushed for “further action”. It added that the continued presence of the original offending statement online, “hardly inspires confidence in the sincerity of his apology. The continuing presence of the statement appears to amount to a breach of the undertaking he gave to the Chief Whip to refrain from using the phase “the Jews” in this context. Ward’s behaviour serves to demonstrate his defiance of the leadership of the Liberal Democrat party and of its censure. It also renders his undertaking worthless.”
In an exclusive article in this week’s Jewish News, Carmichael says both Ward’s language and timing were “unacceptable”. He writes it was “intolerable because it is inaccurate and offensive to equate and link all Jewish people with the actions of the Israeli Government. It was intolerable because the Holocaust was a particular crime against humanity that involved the attempted extermination of a people. Whatever view we take of the actions of the Israeli government, no one would attribute that end to them. And it was intolerable because the Jewish community, like the rest of us, will never forget Nazi cuelty, and deserve better than to be lumped together and called “the Jews”.
Carmichael stressed that the censure was the most serious measure available to him. He added: “I have also made it absolutely clear that nothing of this sort must ever happen again. If it were to, the already serious consequences for David Ward would escalate significantly.”

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David Ward Faces Fresh Lib Dem Action Over JN Comments

The Bradford MP David Ward was formally censured by his party’s chief whip after writing, just days before Holocaust Memorial Day, that he was saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust could, within a few years of liberation, be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians in the new state of Israel and continue to do so.”

But despite issuing an apology for “unintended offense” and a written pledge not to use the words “the Jews” again in that context, the offending statement remains on the politician’s website 11 days on. And last night he wrote during an email exchange with the Jewish News: “Can you ask the Board of Deputies if they are in agreement that I should replace the words “the Jews” with “the Jewish community” – if so, I am perfectly happy to do so.”

Earlier in the exchange – in which he was given no less than three opportunities to say when the statement would be removed from his site but failed to do so – he asked: “Can you provide me with a more acceptable choice of words that I could use to criticise the treatment of the Palestinians.”

Jewish News understands the party called a meeting this morning with community leaders including representatives of the Jewish Leadership Council to try to draw a line under the matter and seek further active engagement following the original comments and censure. But they quickly realised that this would be insufficient after seeing the paper’s front page exclusive this morning.

And in a statement issued at midday, community leaders – from the Board of Deputies, CST, Holocaust Educational Trust and JLC – said: “Earlier this morning we met with Government Chief Whip Alastair Carmichael MP and Liberal Democrat Party Chief Executive Tim Gordon, at their request. The Chief Whip has assured us that Mr Ward’s latest comments will be dealt with as a fresh issue. It was made clear that this will be pursued in the context of Mr Carmichael’s commitment that if “anything of this sort” ever happened again the consequences for Mr Ward “would escalate significantly” beyond the official censure already imposed.”

They added: “During the meeting we repeated our bewilderment that the original statements remain on Ward’s website and our view that his prior apology has no credibility.”

In an exclusive article in this week’s Jewish News, penned before the latest controversy, Carmichael says both Ward’s language and timing were “unacceptable”. He writes it was “intolerable because it is inaccurate and offensive to equate and link all Jewish people with the actions of the Israeli Government and the state of Israel. It was intolerable because the Holocaust was a particular crime against humanity that involved the attempted extermination of a people. Whatever view we take of the actions of the Israeli government, nom one would attribute that end to them. It was intolerable because te Jewish community, like the rest of us, will never forget Nazi cruelty, and deserve better than to be lumped together and being described as “the Jews”.

Disagreeing with those that claimed the censure amounts to no more than a slap of the wrists, he stressed that it was the most serious measure available to him “alone” and is the first time he had made such a move. But he added: “I have also made it absolutely clear that nothing of this sort must ever happen again. If it were to, the already serious consequences for David Ward would escalate significantly.”

Even before the MP’s words to the Jewish News, community leaders had insisted the party had not gone from enough in taking action against him, with some even calling for the whip to be withdrawn.

While stopping short of such a call in a statement on Monday, the Board of Deputies – which has written to Nick Clegg over the matter – urges “further action” by the party. It added that the continued presence of the original offending statement online “hardly inspires confidence in the sincerity of his apology. Moreover, the continuing presence of the offending statement appears to amount to a breach of the undertaking he gave to the Chief Whip to refrain from using the phase “the Jews” in this context.”

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Trump Attacks Obama Over Israel

The billionaire property developer is one of the of the US leader’s fiercest critics and yesterday used an interview with the Jewish News to launch a fresh line of attack.

Following reports that Obama had repeatedly said Israel “doesn’t know what its best interests are” in the wake of last month’s highly-contentious announcement on settlement construction, Trump said: “He (Obama) has not been a strong supporter of Israel.” The presenter of the American version of The Apprentice – who describes himself as a “big fan” of the Jewish state – added: “Bibi loves Israel, he cherishes Israel, he eats and breathes Israel. He knows what he wants and how to get it.”

Trump – who claims the Israeli leader has shown “great intelligence” and “toughness” in recent years – said the world should expect “greatness” if Netanyahu returns to the premiership. “Things will happen that will be good for Israel.”

The interview came hours after the screening on Israeli television of an unprecedented message of support for Netanyahu, instigated and produced by British-born PR guru Jonny Daniels.

Trump told the Jewish News it was an “honour” to endorse Netanyahu. “He’s respected tremendously in the United States and all over. Even his strongest enemies respect him.” Daniels, 27, who is a consultant to Deputy Knesset speaker Danny Danon, said: “Donald Trump is a true friend of the people of Israel. His public support of the prime minister comes from a deep and honest understanding of the intricate situation in Israel.”

He said it is believed to be the first celebrity endorsement of its kind from America for a candidate in an Israeli election.

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