British Jews and Muslims call for Gaza truce
Muslim and Jewish groups in the UK have issued calls for an end to the conflict in Gaza and wipe out racism.
A joint statement was released on Thursday morning by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), soon after the declaration of an open-ended truce between Israel and Hamas.
The statement called on Jews and Muslims in the UK to refuse to “import conflict” and instead “export peace”.
The statement said: “There is no doubt that Muslims and Jews have deeply held views about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. We acknowledge that our communities may disagree about the origins, current reasons and solutions to end the conflict. But there are also points of agreement. We need constructive dialogue to limit our disagreements and identify the widest possible range of areas for cooperation. There are more issues that unite us than divide us.”
Both Hamas and Israel asserted victory following the most recent end to the hostilities, which claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians and 70 Israelis. Both MCB and BoD condemned the civilian casualties of the conflict, as well as the increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic feeling in the UK.
A recent study by the Community Security Trust shows that since Israel launched its offensive into Gaza last month, the UK has seen a spike in the level of anti-Semitic violence, rising to its highest in five years.
A poll by the Jewish Chronicle revealed that up to 80% of British Jews feel blamed for the conflict by non-Jews and that two-thirds of British Jews have been forced to question their own future in the UK.
Yesterday’s statement by the two organizations is an unprecedented step forward in Muslim-Jew relations in the UK.
The MCB is the country’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 local, regional and national affiliate groups. They gained notoriety in 2009 when the then deputy secretary-general of the group, Daud Abdullah, signed the Istanbul Declaration which threatened violence against British troops and supporters of Israel in Britain.
The Council, who boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day in recent years, has as members “groups aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and sympathetic to Hamas itself”, according to Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard.
In spite of the statement’s unheard of origins, Pollard warns against possible divisive repercussions stating: “A statement intended to show how much unites two minority faiths has actually re-emphasised and given publicity to an enormous chasm between the two.”
Thomas Rhys Jones