Eight senior clergymen from the Anglican Church arrived for a tour of Judea and Samaria on Wednesday.
The eight are Reverend Andy Perry, Vicar of St. Mary’s Long fleet, Poole (SML); Reverend Alastair Cutting, Vicar of Henfield, and Rector of Shermanbury & Woodmancote; Reverend Canon Gary Jenkins, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Redhill in the Diocese of Southwark; Reverend Dr. Jonathan Gibbs, rector at Heswall Parish Church; Reverend Paul Eddy, curate at Grove Parish Church, Oxford Diocesan Missioner; Reverend Richard Jackson, Chichester Diocese Mission and Renewal Advisor and part of the Senior Management Team; Jacob Vince, a lay member of General Synod and a member of the Board of Governors of the Church of England and Church Commissioner; and the Right Reverend Alistair Magowan, the Suffragan Bishop of Ludlow.
They came to Judea and Samaria as guests of the Yesha Council. Following the tour, the eight had lunch with Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan.
“We’ve come together on a study tour of about eight days and we’re going from north to south, east to west, talking to all people – not just rabbis, leaders and politicians,” David Gifford, the CEO of the Council of Christians and Jews in the UK, told Arutz Sheva.
“This group of people is open-minded,” he added. “They don’t want to make pre-judgments. They don’t want to decide before they come. What they want to do is to listen and to talk and then make their own mind up afterwards.”
While many people feel that in England there is an anti-Israel attitude, Gifford said that “there’s a variety of opinion.”
“What I see are some people who are obviously pro-Israel and some people who are pro-Palestinian,” he said. “But there’s also a great longing amongst a lot of people that they should be pro-peace and that Jew and Arab can live together.”
He said that the group of clergymen are well aware of the Biblical connection that Jews have to Judea and Samaria but at the same time also know that Arabs have lived in the area for a long time as well. (Arutz Sheva notes that Professor Joan Peters of Harvard has proven in her best selling book "From Time Immemorial", a demographic study published in 1984, that a significant percentage of the Arabs living in Israel, including Judea and Samaria, came as migrants looking for work in the early 20th century after the Jews began to develop the country).
“They’d want to see a fair deal for the Arabs, but also a fair deal for the Israelis too,” Gifford said. “They would not go one side of the other.”
Naftali Bennett, the Outgoing Director-General of the Yesha Council, told Arutz Sheva that he felt that what really got to the clergymen was the connection of the Jews to the land of Israel.
“They understand that this is our land because of the Bible,” he said. “That has to be the fundamental point in our efforts, and if there’s one lesson that’s the lesson.”