Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Day – the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury

Christianity has been much in the news – so there’s a surprise on Christmas.  You would not be surprised to hear this from the Archbishop of Canterbury, nor from the Queen, as the Head of the Church of England but the Prime Minister’s comments are perhaps a little more unexpected.  They all set me thinking.

I quote from the Prime Minister, “As a Christian country, we must remember what his birth represents: peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope. I believe that we should also reflect on the fact that it is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none.”

Absolutely – there is nothing discriminatory about that – I knew full well when I chose to come to this country that it was Christian but that I was free to practice my religion, free from discrimination and persecution. (Officially that is – anti-Semitism has always existed and is becoming more aggressive again – but this is still a good place for Jews. Of course I couldn’t argue with him – those religious roots owe something to their Jewish origins.)

The Queen, who writes her own Christmas broadcast said, 

"For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus's birth - in a stable - were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country. It's no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.”  

Well said Your Majesty – suddenly we are all thinking about the scenes that have filled our television screens this past year.

And finally, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and I quote, 

Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God’s apocalypse, ISIS and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression..... They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began.

My first thought was – and what about the Jews?  Well of course the Jews are not facing elimination from the countries in which ISIS is operating – Syria, Iraq, etc.  They’ve gone.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews have fled those countries over the past decades (members of our extended family fled Egypt in 1956 with a suitcase each and their passports removed, immediately becoming impoverished and stateless). Not all of them went to Israel – they spread out to many countries, including the UK. Of course, Jews are being targeted by Muslim extremists in Europe and elsewhere, but if this “elimination” that the Archbishop speaks of in the Middle East is successful will the next step be the elimination of Israel and the Jews?

I don’t know what the Archbishop is doing about rescuing those Christians he speaks of but one Jew is paying back the debt he feels: Lord Weidenfeld was part of the Kindertransport before WWII.  He has set up a fund and is actively engaged in helping Christians to escape. He said in July 

“I had a debt to repay. It applies to so many young people who were on the Kinderstransports. It was Quakers and other Christian denominations who brought those children to England. It was a very high-minded operation and we Jews should also be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”  Here is an article from the Catholic Herald
but there are more on the internet.

I wrote a blog in August 2014 about what was happening in the Middle East, the campaign against Israel which seemed to be gaining even more currency and the persecution of the Yazidis and Christians which no one seemed to be concerned about. I decided not to publish it – I am not sure why but I now regret that. I should publish that one first but today is Christmas Day so this one takes precedence. I will post it soon.

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