14 November 2023, The Tablet

Cafod calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ as Catholics urged to denounce antisemitism

Cafod calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ as Catholics urged to denounce antisemitism

Pat Gaffney speaking at Tavistock Square last Sunday.
Credit: Peace Pledge Union.

The Caritas Social Action Network is urging Catholics to denounce Islamophobia and antisemitic hate in their local communities as Cafod today added its voice to those calling for an “immediate ceasefire” to bring an end to the unfolding “humanitarian catastrophe”.

Antisemitic incidents have risen by more than 500 per cent in the UK since the conflict began on 7 October.

Csan said: “We urge Catholics to raise the voice of peace and justice in their communities with their elected representatives.” 

Data logged by the Jewish Charity, the Community Security Trust shows that antisemitic incidents in London have soared by more than 1,300 per cent in the five weeks since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict which has led to the death of more than 10,000 Gazans. More antisemitic incidents were committed against school children in one month than in the first six months of 2023. Reported incidents include a four-year-old girl being called “a dirty Jew” on the Tube.

On November 5 Pope issued a plea “in God’s name” for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and the provision of humanitarian aid for the injured.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has also called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, saying “the suffering of innocent Palestinians cries out as a great wrong and, as I have said before: the evils of Hamas cannot be paid by the civilians of Gaza.”

Palestinian Christians had written to Welby to express concern about Anglican leaders’ “support for the UK’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war”.

On Saturday, 300,000 people joined a pro-Palestine march in London calling for a ceasefire.

Marchers from Pax Christi held placards carrying peace quotes from Pope Francis. Cafod joined Christian Aid and others in calling on the UK Government to push for an immediate ceasefire. The words “Ceasefire Now” were projected onto the parliament buildings in Westminster. The previous day Cafod lamented “that staff and family members from one of our Gaza partners have been killed”.

Ahead of the potential vote on the motion calling for a ceasefire, Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at Cafod, said: “How have we got to this point? For six weeks we have seen bloodshed upon bloodshed– over 12,000 Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed, including several staff from our partner organisations and their families. Politicians from every political party must call for a ceasefire, now – not next week, or next month. 

“A humanitarian pause does not go far enough. Only a ceasefire can put an end to the killing of civilians, ensure hostages are freed and allow enough aid to meet the huge humanitarian need. Our partners have told us of the unspeakable realities of coping without enough fuel, electricity, water or food.  

“We cannot sit by and watch as this humanitarian catastrophe unfolds before our eyes. As Pope Francis says, ‘war is always a defeat’.”  

The charity’s Israeli-Palestine Crisis Appeal aims to “get funds to local trusted experts who have been working alongside communities helping those most in need to receive urgent humanitarian aid including food, water and emergency shelter”.

The BBC admitted last week to making “mistakes” in its coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflicts, but denied allegations of systemic antisemitism.

On Sunday, the Peace Pledge Union held an “alternative remembrance gathering” in central London. Speaking in front of wreathes of white “peace” poppies and the memorial to conscientious objectors, Pat Gaffney, vice president of Pax Christi England and Wales, recalled the words of UN chief Antonio Guterres, that Gaza “has become a graveyard of children”.

The head of the World Health Organisation told the UN Security Council last week that Israel’s attacks  were killing one child on average every 10 minutes in Gaza.



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