Coming hard on the heels of the first trip to Auschwitz by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams — who was accompanied by the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks — the fall-out from the event is already damaging interfaith relations and now threatens to spill over into a diplomatic row.
At the event, organised by anti-Israel campaigners, including one liberal Jewish group, and with carols rewritten by an unnamed Jewish parody writer, the carol Once in Royal David's City was altered to say "Once in royal David’s city stood a big apartheid wall. . ."
The Twelve Days of Christmas was sung as: "Twelve assassinations/Eleven homes demolished/Ten wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree."
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, is one of the few Christian leaders to have spoken out openly against the event. In a lecture at the London Jewish Cultural Centre yesterday, Lord Carey said that anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews still lurked beneath the surface in Christian circles in Britain.
This month Lambeth Palace described the event as "a piece of rather unpleasant publicity seeking by a collection of small groups who should not be encouraged by being given attention". The Archbishop of Canterbury's office added: "It is no more reflective of the views of the Church of England than Jews for Boycotting Israel is reflective of the Jewish community."