A transformation is underway in Jewish attitudes and identification due to the intensification of the Middle East conflict and the growth of anti-Semitism.
Last month RW reported on the growing “hawkish” attitudes of Reform rabbis during the escalation of violence in the Middle East. The crisis “has inspired more of a coming out than a run for cover [regarding their Jewish identity]. Jewish leaders nationwide report a spike in synagogue attendance and fund-raising — as well as a 46 percent increase in applications for aliyah, with 236 families seeking to immigrate since Jan. 1, up from 162 at this time last year,” reports the New York Times (April 22).
The suicide bombing at a Passover Seder in Israel served as a rallying call for many Jews to revive their support of Israel (seen in the growing crowds at many pro-Israel meetings in the U.S.) and Jewish solidarity in general. The events in the Middle East and the resulting Jewish solidarity are also having an impact on interfaith dialogue. Following an April 5 statement of Anglican Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, on “Israel and Palestine”, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) announced on April 10 that it was pulling out of the inter-religious Canadian Christian Jewish Consultation (CCJC), after a participation of 30 years.
The message was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, said Manuel Prutschi, the CJC’s national director of community relations, who accused the Anglican Church and the United Church of Canada of being “one-sided,” according to Ecumenical News International (April 23). The Primate’s “Message to the Canadian Anglicans” actually made an attempt to be balanced and took care to emphasize the longing for peace of many people on both sides.
But its reference to the Israeli occupation as the “heart” of the current violence apparently irritated the CJC. The Jewish Congress accused the statement of completely “ignor[ing] the perspective of Israel, and the Jewish people, who seek peace with security”. But the CJC’s reaction represents the culmination of a growing uneasiness of the part of the CJC relating to a series of statements and other documents from Canadian Christian groups “that have betrayed a clear anti-Israel bias”.
Such a development can be seen as an indicator of wider issues– and also of the difficult situation into which the current crisis brings many in the Jewish diaspora around the world.
— Written with Jean-François Mayer, RW contributing editor and director of Religioscope (http://www.religoscope.com)