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June 15, 2015 9:55 pm

Former UK Chief Rabbi Calls for ‘Strong Religious Voice’ to Combat Extremism (VIDEO)

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Former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Jonathan Sacks. Photo: Cooperniall.

Former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Jonathan Sacks. Photo: Cooperniall.

The former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth said a uniting, “strong religious voice” was necessary to combat the rampant antisemitism in Europe.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, the Orthodox rabbi Sacks said that he saw a need among young Christians, Muslims and Jews “for some strong religious voice that speaks to the spirit, not just to the physical, kind of material culture that we’re in, but that brings us together instead of splitting us apart.”

“I really have done a lot of teaching now with young Muslims, young Christians, and they really resonate to this message. A religious message, but one that brings us together,” he said.

To Jews, he said, “We were brought up with a text that gets us to see the humanity of the other. Love the stranger because you yourself were once strangers. I think if Israelis try and see the world from Palestinian eyes, Palestinians see the world from Jewish eyes, we would begin to understand one another’s fears.”

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“Once you get rid of the politics of fear you can build a politics of hope,” said Sacks.

Rabbi Sacks was speaking to Marr amid the release of his new book on facing religious violence, called Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.

Sacks’ new book also heralds an age of increased religiosity.

“Even if no one is persuaded to become religious, if you just look at birthrates throughout the world, the more religious you are, the more children you have. So, just by demographics alone the 21st century is going to get increasingly religious,” he claimed.

He said increasingly young people are turning to religion, but religions that preach “extremism, radicalism and violence.”

He decried dwindling populations of Christians across the Middle East, calling the threats many face by extremist Islamic groups such as the Islamic State, the “religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing.”

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  • Susan Gottesman

    Disappointed in Rabbi Sacks response to the last question. The land of Israel was mostly abandoned for centuries. Some Jews have always lived there especially in Tzfat and Jerusalem but there was no major population of arab farmers that have been displaced. Look at travelers descriptions of Israel such a Mark Twain for example who writes in Innocents Abroad (1867) ” …[a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds-a silent mournful expanse….We never saw a human being on the whole route….There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” and further: “its minuscule Arab presence, making use of virtually none of the available land for the people’s own meager needs, could hardly be considered a serious counter to the claim of millions of Jews the world over to a State of their own.”
    Rabbi Sacks stop with the platitudes, a PR reply is not appropriate or acceptable from you in this instance.

  • The Watchman

    The Politics of Fear can only be properly tackled when it is backed up by an armed and trained citizenry. Take a little time away from praying and use it to learn to fight, preferably Krav Maga. Defence training should be part of the Jewish curriculum. It has to be impressed on the enemy that Jewish blood is very very very expensive. History shows that any other response leads to the gas chambers.