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Council of Christians and Jews says solving antisemitism is a 'huge educational piece of work'

Thu 11 Jul 2019
By Heather Preston

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) is calling for more to be done to address prejudice towards the Jewish community.

Concerns of anti-Semitic behaviour have continued to escalate recently, with the Labour party at the centre of the discussion, following a Panorama broadcast on Wednesday evening.

Eight former employees spoke out against senior officials on the programme, claiming some of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies had interfered with the disciplinary processes of anti-Jewish investigations.

Labour's director of communications Seumas Milne and its general secretary Jennie Formby were allegedly amongst the culprits.

 

There has been mixed responses to the documentary within the party, one spokesman insisted that it was deliberately misleading while a senior Labour member said a rule change was needed to help deal with anti-Semitism.

Director of The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), Elizabeth Harris-Sawczeno told Premier anti-Jewish attitudes are on the rise across the UK.

She said: "It's become more acceptable for people with unpalatable and sometimes racist opinions, to feel that they're more able to express them openly and I think some of that relates to the current political environment, populism and a general atmosphere that alienates the other"

Ms Harris-Sawczeno said education is essential to identify and expose prejudice: "It's sometimes not even clear to people what anti-Semitism is, I think there's this huge educational piece of work to be done, that doesn't let people off the hook that are anti-Semitic."

She said antisemitism is widespread and a more comprehensive understanding of the Jewish people is needed.

"You see either covert anti-Semitism or misunderstanding that something that is said can be heard in a very different way by Jewish person. Very often it relates to the conflict in the Middle East where there is an interchangeable use of the word Jew and Israel, implying that in some way every Jew in the UK is responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

"But there's also a tendency to see this as a single narrative where of course, you're talking about a very complex conflict with difficulties on both sides.

"As Christians and Jews, our responsibility is to listen to different narratives and to try and understand where different people are coming from."

The CCJ seeks to promote unity and understanding across faith groups and breakdown unhelpful stereotypes associated with the Jewish people. As part of its work it brings together Rabbis and members of the clergy to find common ground and tackle prejudice through social action projects and community engagement.

 

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