An interview by Robert Cohen with Rabbi David Goldberg was published in the Church Times this week. Entitled, "An Insider on the Outside" the article was subtitled, "Rabbi David Goldberg's latest book challenges cherished attitudes in the State of Israel and the Jewish diaspora." In the interview, Rabbi Goldberg speaks frankly about his views of the Board of Deputies, the Council of Christians and Jews and the Church of England Synod. Cohen writes,
"On the day we met, the General Synod was about to debate its motion on Israel-Palestine. There was pressure from the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks (a second cousin of Goldberg), and the Board of Deputies of British Jews to moderate the motion by removing references to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, which they described as "anti-Israel". Reviewing the coverage of the debate in the Jewish Chronicle at the end of the week, Rabbi Goldberg sent me this response:
"Obviously, I was not there to hear the debate, but I thought that the JC's front-page headline, charging the Church with endorsing an 'Israel hate agenda', was an irresponsible incitement of Jewish paranoia; and its editorial, accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury of 'an explicit comparison' between the Holocaust and the deprivations of the Palestinians at checkpoints, was a scurrilous distortion of his carefully chosen words.""Rabbi Goldberg has always been a champion of interfaith dialogue, but he now believes that the Israel question has contaminated Jewish-Christian relationships that have been built up over decades. He recognises that centuries of anti-Semitism, with its origins in Christian teaching, have left Christians in an ethical bind. Who are they to lecture Jews on morality? On the other hand, how can Christians stand by when they see an injustice being committed against the Palestinians?"
"Israel as a state has become politicised," he says. "When it comes to interfaith dialogue, it's become the elephant in the room, because those Christian organisations that have dared to voice criticism of what goes on in the Occupied Territories suffer the full force of the Jewish community bearing down on them, and risk the ultimate sanction, and ultimate deterrent, of being accused of anti-Semitism."Cohen says, "He is "not optimistic" that the situation can be unlocked, "because it requires honesty on both sides, and I have to say that organisations like the Council of Christians and Jews are too timid to grasp the nettle. They always look for the anodyne consensus that will please nobody. Ultimately, they can't confront the situation, because there is a lack of real openness."
Read the complete interview here