The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the Church of England needs to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in a video conversation with the UK’s Chief Rabbi, released Friday.
The comments follow Christians United for Israel’s campaign launched last month calling for church denominations to adopt the definition in full. Over 10,000 Christians have signed the Christians Against Antisemitism Declaration so far demanding that the church takes a stronger stand against anti-Semitism by adopting the definition. It also follows CUFI calling upon the Archbishop directly earlier in the year.
Speaking during a pre-Rosh Hashanah video at the home of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Archbishop Welby said he was “very pleased that the Labour Party has accepted IHRA without any riders or caveats of any kind at all”, but that he found it “hugely distressing and depressing” that the Jewish community “should have a deep sense of insecurity”.
“That is appalling, and what that says to me, is that the leaders in our nation must be very clear on giving security to the Jewish community in this country and that steps like IHRA are the beginning of a long journey.”
He added that “we, as a church need to adopt IHRA formally. I’m distressed that it should be necessary but I think it is necessary”.
Archbishop Welby concluded his message by wishing the Jewish Community “an increase in your sense of security and peace and assurance of your future”.
Earlier in the year CUFI sent letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Denominational leaders appealing to them to adopt the IHRC Definition of Anti-Semitism. In his reply the Archbishop of Canterbury told CUFI of the Church of England’s “commitment to stand alongside the Jewish community in opposing antisemitism in whatever guise it manifests itself today and in the future”.
However, he stopped short of committing to supporting the definition’s adoption, saying “It is not common practice for the Church to sign up to documents which originate outside the Church,” adding that he has noted the significance of this statement and “is sure that it will become widely used in our understanding of the insidious evil that is antisemitism’”.
CUFI has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the Jewish Community in the face of the Labour Party’s failure to deal with the anti-Semitism issue within its ranks. Indeed CUFI has expressed deep concern that the Church has remained on the sidelines.
However, this intervention by the Archbishop is a positive move towards the Church adopting the definition and CUFI will be pressing for its full implementation.