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July 07, 2015

The Betrayal of the Legacy of a Tireless Campaigner Against Anti-Jewish Prejudice

A scholarly institution with a mission to promote harmonious relations between Jews and non Jews has a supporter of BDS on its board.

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Ordained as a minister of the Church of England in 1926, the Reverend Dr James Parkes (1896-1981) was a devoted and tireless campaigner against anti-Jewish prejudice, unrelenting in his efforts to promote tolerance and understanding towards Jews among his fellow churchmen and in society at large. He constantly championed persecuted Jews during the dark decades when Nazi and pro-Nazi governments were in power and helped to rescue a number of Jewish refugees during the 1930s.

One of this great man’s legacies was the Parkes Institute, the activities and origins of which are summarised as follows:

“The Parkes Institute is the world's oldest and most wide-ranging centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages."

Reverend Parkes had sound understanding of historical realities and would not have been surprised by the gradual erosion of sympathies for Jews and Israel within his church and in society and large and the corresponding rise in influence of anti-Israel activists which have occurred within the past four decades. The impact in certain circles of new forms of “replacement theology” and the “revisionist” doctrines of Christian Palestinian leaders - many of whom have no hesitation in propagating the most extreme lies about Israelis and in expressing themselves in openly anti-Jewish ways (the time when the Anglican Church in Israel was represented by a cultured and broad-minded scholar like Bishop George Appleton being long past) – has been well documented and analysed, including in the authoritative 2002 study, “Christians who hate the Jews”, by Melanie Phillips.

While Reverend Parkes would have been greatly saddened by the above phenomena, he would surely have felt deeply betrayed by developments within the Parkes Institute. The past decade has seen a growing presence within its administrative and academic bodies not only of individuals who show themselves from time to time to be dishonestly or unfairly critical of Israel, but also of sympathisers of boycotts and sanctions of various kinds, like Professor Oren Ben-Dor. There was widespread media coverage of this professor of law and philosophy, the main organiser of a pseudo-scholarly conference, entitled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” - intended to bring together rabidly anti-Zionist academics to present papers delegitimising all aspects of Israel.

Read the whole piece by Paul Leslie. (Update: A version of this article was published in the Algemeiner on July 2, 2015)

http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/07/02/uk-institute-founded-to-combat-anti-semtism-is-being-invaded-by-bds/When a scholarly institution with a mission to promote harmonious relations between Jews and non Jews has a supporter of BDS on its board – the betrayal of James Parkes.

Ordained as a minister of the Church of England in 1926, the Reverend Dr James Parkes (1896-1981) was a devoted and tireless campaigner against anti-Jewish prejudice, unrelenting in his efforts to promote tolerance and understanding towards Jews among his fellow churchmen and in society at large. He constantly championed persecuted Jews during the dark decades when Nazi and pro-Nazi governments were in power and helped to rescue a number of Jewish refugees during the 1930s.

Reverend Parkes showed himself to be a pioneer in more than one respect. He played a prominent role in preparing for a post-war era where, it was hoped, religious tolerance and mutual respect would prevail and bring about the marginalisation of anti-Jewish bigotry within society and its established institutions. In Britain he helped to found the Council of Christians and Jews, which, during the decades following the Second World War, at a time memories of the Shoa were fresh, developed into an organisation which did much good work in fostering harmonious inter-faith relations. It is quite possible that this work was facilitated not only by the presence within the Church of England (and its Scottish and Welsh equivalents) of a significant number of enlightened individuals of some importance, but also by the fact that those Anglican churchmen who were animated by anti-Jewish prejudice were in most cases less virulent in their hostility than their counterparts in the churches of many European countries.

Reverend Parkes used his great scholarship to analyse the centuries-old antisemitism rooted in Christian doctrines, as shown in seminal works like The Conflict of the Church and Synagogue: a Study in the Origins of Anti-Semitism. (London, Soncino Press, 1934) and The Jew and his Neighbour: A Study in the Causes of Anti-Semitism. (London, Student Christian Movement Press, 1930). A staunch defender of the state of Israel against its enemies, he published texts like The Continuity of Jewish Life in the Middle East (London, Anglo-Israel Association, [1963?) and Arabs and Jews in the Middle East: a tragedy of errors. (London, Gollancz, 1967).

One of this great man’s legacies was the Parkes Institute, the activities and origins of which are summarised as follows:

“The Parkes Institute is the world's oldest and most wide-ranging centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages.

“The Parkes Institute is a unique centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages. We are a community of scholars, archivists, librarians, students, and activists. ….

“As part of his international campaigning, he built up the Parkes Library and associated archive which transferred to the University of Southampton in 1964. It is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and the only one in the world devoted to Jewish/non-Jewish relations.”

Reverend Parkes had sound understanding of historical realities and would not have been surprised by the gradual erosion of sympathies for Jews and Israel within his church and in society and large and the corresponding rise in influence of anti-Israel activists which have occurred within the past four decades. The impact in certain circles of new forms of “replacement theology” and the “revisionist” doctrines of Christian Palestinian leaders - many of whom have no hesitation in propagating the most extreme lies about Israelis and in expressing themselves in openly anti-Jewish ways (the time when the Anglican Church in Israel was represented by a cultured and broad-minded scholar like Bishop George Appleton being long past) – has been well documented and analysed, including in the authoritative 2002 study, “Christians who hate the Jews”, by Melanie Phillips.

While Reverend Parkes would have been greatly saddened by the above phenomena, he would surely have felt deeply betrayed by developments within the Parkes Institute. The past decade has seen a growing presence within its administrative and academic bodies not only of individuals who show themselves from time to time to be dishonestly or unfairly critical of Israel, but also of sympathisers of boycotts and sanctions of various kinds, like Professor Oren Ben-Dor. There was widespread media coverage of this professor of law and philosophy, the main organiser of a pseudo-scholarly conference, entitled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” - intended to bring together rabidly anti-Zionist academics to present papers delegitimising all aspects of Israel.

This coverage was however mainly focussed upon the issues raised by official endorsement of this event and the campaigns which led to its last minute cancellation. It was only a few media outlets like the Jewish Chronicle, in its article dated the 23rd March 2015, which mentioned that this supporter of the BDS movement’s involvement in promoting this event had led to his removal from the board of the Parkes Institute. Though, so I have been reliably informed, Ben-Dor had not always been hostile to his own country and had not manifested anti-Israeli attitudes at the start of his academic career in this country, by the middle of the 2000s he had become quite open and public in his anti-Zionist activism – as illustrated by his publications.

Ben-Dor had also by this stage developed a strong antipathy to Judaism and a readiness to express antisemitic ideas – as demonstrated in an analysis by Professor Sarah Brown, published in Harry’s Place and the summer issue of Fathom - and yet he continued to serve as a Member of the Management Committee of the Parkes Institute, which he had been since at least 2003/2004. Even if, so I have also been reliably informed, efforts were made at some stage to persuade him to desist – to no avail, since he showed himself to be “incorrigible” – how could he have been allowed to serve on the board of the Parkes Institute for so long before action was taken?

And there are surely others against whom action should be taken, with the support of patrons of the Parkes Institute like former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. One of its former directors, Dr. Mark Levene, has been for a number of years one of the supporters of the movement Jews for Justice for Palestinians (as well as identifying himself as one of the so-called Independent Jewish Voices, like Professor Brian Klug and Professor Tony Kushner, another former director of the Parkes Institute). (Among the organisations which the people who run Jews for Justice for Palestinians support are organisations like the International/Palestine Solidarity Campaign which promote anti-Israel boycotts.) In recent years, even if most lectures and seminars have been unexceptionable from a scholarly point of view, there have been one or two really questionable ones – like the seminar given on 25th October 2005 by John Rose, author of Myths of Zionism), “Middle Eastern Jewish Voices over the Millennia: A non-Zionist Perspective”. One of the authorities for this anti-Zionist propagandist is Lenni Brenner, whose writings include among theirs lies the claim of Nazi-Zionist collaboration.

Paul Leslie Ph. D, holds degrees from Oxford University and the Sorbonne. He resides in London.

Posted by SS at July 7, 2015 02:04 PM

Comments

Dr. Leslie, thank you for your exposé. We are deeply saddened by The Gathering Storm of hate and lies which are turning this world upside down and creating a moral and ethical vacuum where Truth and Faith become treasonous. Even George Orwell could not have imagined what the world is becoming.

Posted by: Pogee at July 9, 2015 10:15 PM

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