Please listen to my Jewish friend Robert Cohen
You'll learn how we met in the blog....
Quotable (hard to choose any single part it's all so good)
Despite all my talk of commonality, I suspect you are still wondering what my view is on that toughest of all issues for Jewish-Christian dialogue - the status of that first century, itinerant, radical preacher from Galilee and the cross on which he was crucified.
How can one person's symbol of forgiveness, redemption and salvation be another's constant reminder of two thousand years of violence and oppression on European and Middle Eastern soil? There has been a high cost to the Church's past imperial might and its teaching of significant aspects of Christian doctrine. None of this can be glossed over or forgotten about just because in our post-modern Western European environment the Church has now fallen on hard times.
At the level of Christian leadership and amongst post-war Christian theologians there has been much acknowledgement and atonement for Christianity's other 'original sin' - the blood libel against the Jewish people. The progress that has been made in the last seventy years is an amazing achievement in such a relatively short space of time. However, I'm not sure how much of this historical understanding and theological adjustment has filtered down to pew level. For the average church goer in the UK, I suspect Christianity is seen as an almost entirely innocent force throughout its history and a religion that has been more often the victim than the victimiser.
Meanwhile, Jews are acutely and painfully aware of their historic relationship with Christianity. In fact, our self-perception of eternal victimhood has been pretty much perfected. The mis-match of self-perception leads to a great deal of misunderstanding and explains the underlying suspicion, even hostility, that many Jews feel towards Christianity.
Christianity, of course, does not own the patent when it comes to concocting dangerous cocktails that mix faith with power. In the same period during which Christian-Jewish relations have seen such improvement, there has been a parallel story developing that has taken Jews from the very nadir of their suffering to a new and disastrous destination that has seen the oppressed become the oppressor.
There isn't the time here to talk about the the relationship between the Holocaust and the State of Israel. It's complicated and involves a great deal of history, politics, theology, and the on-going collective trauma of both Jews and Palestinians. It is utterly tragic that the Palestinians have paid the price for crimes committed on Christian European soil. On a rather more modest scale, we Jews are now busy making all the same mistakes as imperial Christianity did and using theology and history to justify our actions.
But back to the carpenter from Nazareth who I do not believe should be held personally responsible for all that has gone on in his name.