Simon Wiesenthal Center: UK Church Leaders Have No Moral Right to Intervene in Possible Embassy Move to Jerusalem

October 9, 2022

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced statements made by two leading clerics in the UK, seeking to block the move of the British embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has indicated several times that she is considering such a move following in footsteps of US and other nations.

Cardinal Vince Nichols, representing the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, sent a letter to the Prime Minister, urging her to leave the embassy in Tel Aviv. Archbishop of Canterbury (Church of England) Justin Welby said the same in a newspaper interview.

“To be clear, this is not a religious matter, but a blatant attempt to meddle in a political decision of the Prime Minister that is an attack on Jews worldwide,” declared Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and its Director of Global Social Action. “What troubles these two? Under Israeli law, there is, and always has been, unrestricted access to Christian holy sites. Indeed, unlike elsewhere in the Middle East, Christians are thriving in Jerusalem.”

“Perhaps these religious leaders have forgotten their own history. We have not. When the Old City of Jerusalem was occupied by the Jordanians between 1948-1967, Catholic and Anglican leaders were silent as Jews were barred from their holy sites, including the Western Wall, for 19 years.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Jerusalem-based Director of Interfaith Affairs, added that “Justin Welby recently formally apologized for 800 years of Christian persecution of Jews in the UK. His pronouncement shows no recognition of or respect for Jerusalem’s centrality to the Jewish people’s past, present and future. He knows that no Anglican interests have been compromised in all the years of Israeli jurisdiction. Members of the royal family have made a point of visiting Protestant churches there. The Catholic bishops from the UK are invited to Jerusalem where Israel allows Vatican flags to publicly fly above all of their facilities throughout Jerusalem—Old and new.

“What issue could possibly move them to speak as Christian leaders about the status of the capital of the Jewish state”, Rabbi Adlerstein added. “We certainly hope that this is not an attempt to return to Replacement Theology, in which the very thought of Jewish sovereignty over a city that bears this Biblical name is unthinkable”

Rabbi Cooper, who also serves as Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)*, urged the UK Faith leaders “to instead join with us in redoubling efforts to help the hundreds of millions of people of faith around the world, who face daily persecution for their beliefs.”

*(Rabbi Cooper’s comments are not made on behalf of USCIRF)

For further information, please email Michele Alkin, Director of Global Communications at or Shawn Rodgers at, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization numbering over 400.000 members. It holds consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS, and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO).

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