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‘A Common Word’ in the News

Primate and rabbis respond to Muslim

THE Archbishop of Canterbury and Israel’s two Chief Rabbis, speaking in Jerusalem on Wednesday, have responded to the call by Muslim scholars for world peace (News, 19 October).

In a communiqué, Dr Williams, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger said that Christians and Jews should respond jointly to the Muslim letter.

“The ‘Common Word’, though addressed to Christian Churches, also makes clear its respect for Hebrew scripture in citing directly from the Book of Deuteronomy, and in acknowledging the inspiration that this provided for their understanding of the Qur’anic teaching on the unity and love of God and of neighbour,” they said in the communiqué.

The communiqué also called for the furthering of “universal religious solidarity” by regarding places of worship, Christian, Jewish or those of other faiths, as “sacrosanct and therefore inviolate”.

The three religious leaders said they were “very concerned about the well-being of the ever-increasing number of refugees from Iraq, and the plight of religious minorities, in particular Christian communities in Iraq, and elsewhere in the region”.

After the meeting, one of the organisers, Rabbi David Rosen, said that Dr Williams was regarded by the Chief Rabbis “as a true and loyal friend of the Jewish people”.

Rabbi Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee, said that the Archbishop’s sympathy towards the Palestinian community did not mean that he was insensitive to the security needs of Israel. “This is not a zero-sum issue.”

In the past, Dr Williams has challenged Israel over the security wall that separates the West Bank from Israel, as an example of “all that is wrong in the human heart”. None the less, in a commitment to the Chief Rabbis last year, Dr Williams made it clear he supported Israel’s legal right to security and agreed to condemn “without reserve” anyone who seeks to deny the state of Israel (News, 8 September 2006). The agreement provided for the leaders to meet in alternate years in Jerusalem and Lambeth.

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