Emeritus Chief Rabbi: ‘Humanitarian acts strongest blows against Isis’
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks discusses the future of Jews in Europe with Simon Schama
The former chief rabbi has spoken in Golders Green of the need for Britain to take in Syrian refugees as a “monumental” humanitarian response to Isis cruelty.
He said that although the root of the refugee crisis would continue to be “enveloping chaos, not just in Syria and Iraq, but in ever wider spheres,” Britain needs to act.
“Humanitarian gestures are the strongest possible blows against Isis,” he said. “We know that they are small, but at the same time they are monumental.
“It means that Isis cannot continue to demonise the West.”
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks made the comments in conversation with historian Simon Schama at Golders Green Synagogue on Monday evening as part of their centenary celebrations.
While arguing that Britain could not have “completely open frontiers” Mr Schama spoke of the collective history of Jews as refugees, fleeing anti-Semitism over the centuries.
- 1 'We're proud of what we do': Kossoffs celebrates six months in Kentish Town
- 2 Two dead in Maida Vale: Woman stabbed and man 'struck by vehicle'
- 3 Seven Sisters stabbing: Three jailed over Green Lanes gang killing
- 4 The most expensive homes sold in Haringey in November 2021
- 5 Italian sandwich shop opens in a Hampstead telephone box
- 6 'The joy of addiction is when you are free of it,' says Hampstead author
- 7 Ex-manager admits defrauding Paddington Sports Club
- 8 Hampstead, Highgate and Muswell Hill constituency changes consultation
- 9 'We don't need to drink more coffee' say cafés as Joe & The Juice moves in
- 10 Cops swoop on cannabis farm rumoured to be 'largest ever' busted in Haringey
“Remember you’re a stranger in a strange man’s land; that is deeply in the fabric of our memories,” he said.
Both speakers believe there is a future for Jews in Europe, even in the face of Islamic extremism and atrocities including January’s kosher supermarket siege in Paris.
“I don’t want it to be the beginning of the end for Jews in Europe,” Mr Schama said.
“I would rather fight anti-Semitism as adamantly as we can.”
“If it is no longer safe to be a Jew on the streets of Europe, it is no longer safe to be in Europe,” Rabbi Sacks agreed. “Non-Jews look to us for courage in the face of terror.”
Rabbi Sacks and Mr Schama both spoke optimistically about interfaith possibilities and the openness of the Muslim and Christianity faiths in Britain.
“Although Jews have enemies, we have many good friends as well,” Rabbi Sacks said.
Rabbi Sacks, who was rabbi of Golders Green Synagogue between 1978 and 1982, joked about welcoming Mr Schama as the “prodigal son” of the synagogue.
Mr Schama had his Bar Mitzvah there, having moved to Golders Green as a boy.
“There was an extremely lively, warm and, I need hardly say, quarrelsome community,” he said.