Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism spoke at ‘Honouring the Christchurch Victims’, a parliamentary reception on Wednesday 3 April.
The event organised by Muslim Aid in partnership with the East London Mosque and the Muslim Council of Britain was attended by New Zealand’s High Commissioner Sir Jerry Mateparae and MPs across parties including Government ministers.
Rabbi Janner-Klausner joined leading UK Muslim organisations in urging politicians and wider society to learn from New Zealand’s response to last month’s mosque shootings which left 50 dead and dozens injured: “Jews and Muslims have much in common, including experiencing a worrying increase in the number of attacks against us in Britain. Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred are scourges on our country, and both must be countered with determination and vigour by all sections of society, including the media, political parties and ourselves. We are so much stronger when we fight hate together”.
“I don’t want muslim schools and mosques looking like Jewish communities where we have to hide our identity because of hate crimes against us.
The Jewish community underhands your fear and pain and is staunchly by your side” Rabbi @LauraJanklaus #christchurch #Islamophobia pic.twitter.com/zREz0tRTwN
— Muslim Aid UK (@Muslim_Aid) April 3, 2019
Rabbi Janner-Klausner’s speech in full
We often say that Muslims and Jews have lots in common.
In some ways, I don’t want Muslims and Jews to have so much in common.
I don’t want Muslim schools to look like Jewish schools, with cameras, security guards and high walls.
I don’t want mosques looking like some synagogues, deliberately covering signs, pretending they don’t exist for fear of attracting abuse.
But I had also hoped that the sadness and trauma weighing on our hearts after the murder of eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue wouldn’t have to weigh on you as well. Six months on, and we remember the fifty victims of the terrorist atrocity in Christchurch. Zichronam Livracha, as Jews say, may their memories be a blessing.
The Jewish community understands your pain.
The Jewish community understands your fear.
The Jewish community is staunchly by your side.
We’re like siblings. We share ancestors – from Noah through to Abraham, the biblical family tree is a gateway to thousands of shared biblical stories and, eventually, thousands of feuds. Abraham’s first child, Ishmael, was born of Hagar. His wife, Sarah, bore Isaac. And so the shared destinies of Jews and Muslims was set – intimately connected, but by no means the same.
Because we are like brothers and sisters, we can bicker. But attacks like Christchurch and Pittsburgh remind us that we also need to come together to be part of the solution.
To stand in solidarity is not enough. Words are not enough. Siblings argue, but we also take care of each other.
No one group alone can take on the huge task of tackling hate. Our government, all political parties, the media, all have a role to play. Awoken by the tragedy of Christchurch, all parts of British society must take anti-Muslim hatred seriously.
We, Muslims and Jews, must lead by example. Together. We shouldn’t focus only on what we have in common and stop brushing our differences under our prayer mats – we need to start having difficult conversations. We need to talk honestly and carefully about challenging topics such as Israel-Palestine, building robust relationships so that we never import conflict into this country. We need to talk about islamophobia and about anti-Semitism amongst our own. If we can’t improve our own communities, we can have little chance of improving others.
We must stand united today, and lead by example tomorrow.
Let’s make our country the great place it should be for Jews, Muslims and all minorities.
Jews and Muslims have much in common, including experiencing a worrying increase in the number of attacks against us in Britain. Anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred are scourges on our country, and both must be countered with determination and vigour by all sections of society, including the media, political parties and ourselves. We are so much stronger when we fight hate together
From past tragedies we must build future hope.