I am of Jewish heritage. I grew up in the certain knowledge that, born a few years earlier on the European continent rather than in Britain, I too would have been in the concentration camps along with my mother, sister and probably my father (for being an artist and marrying a Jew). I was proud of my heritage. I went to a school where a third of the pupils were Jewish: we had a kosher kitchen, Jewish as well as Christian assemblies, and Jewish RE was available. In languages, Hebrew was an option. I was very happy to be educated alongside Jewish girls, we learnt about the evils of anti-semitism. I was proud, that in my own small way, I belonged among them. Now, an adult, and a minister of the Church, I have taken the opportunity when it has been possible, to attend the Synagogue. With full knowledge that I am a minister of the Church, I have been made very welcome in the Synagogue. Treated as ‘one of our own’ come home’. I am proud of my Jewish heritage, and glad to honour my mother and grandfather as Jews among Jews.
But when I look at what Israel is doing to Palestine it tears my heart! This is MY FAMILY, my beloved people, who I have been so proud to be part of. Who know, as no other one nation knows, what genocide feels like, what it feels like to be treated as non-human. True, black people know it too but for the Jews, they had it for 2000 years, and finally the concentrated horror of the Holocaust. My people, who know that horror, are imposing the same horror on the Palestinians! My people, whose very identity rests in the escape from slavery in Egypt and the misery of the Exile in Babylon, the pogroms throughout Europe and finally the Holocaust – are doing the same to the people of the occupied lands of Palestine. This is not a war, it is not a conflict – those terms imply equality. This is genocide of people who live, if living it can be called, under constant Israeli control and harassment – and who, from time to time – dare to fight back. They fight back with rockets that are little better than fireworks against Israel’s US-supplied, state of the art munitions. This is pea-shooters against bombs. My people, who I love, I pray that you learn the law of Love which gives peace, not in return for armaments, but in return for love. When Jesus said, ‘love your neighbour’ this was not a new commandment, but one which came from the Jewish tradition. It is a Rabbi who said, ‘love God and love your neighbour, all else is speculation’. Learn to love your neighbours, my family in Israel, and then my love for you will cease to tear my heart to bits.