The former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth said a uniting, “strong religious voice” was necessary to combat the rampant antisemitism in Europe.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, the Orthodox rabbi Sacks said that he saw a need among young Christians, Muslims and Jews “for some strong religious voice that speaks to the spirit, not just to the physical, kind of material culture that we’re in, but that brings us together instead of splitting us apart.”
“I really have done a lot of teaching now with young Muslims, young Christians, and they really resonate to this message. A religious message, but one that brings us together,” he said.
To Jews, he said, “We were brought up with a text that gets us to see the humanity of the other. Love the stranger because you yourself were once strangers. I think if Israelis try and see the world from Palestinian eyes, Palestinians see the world from Jewish eyes, we would begin to understand one another’s fears.”
“Once you get rid of the politics of fear you can build a politics of hope,” said Sacks.
Rabbi Sacks was speaking to Marr amid the release of his new book on facing religious violence, called Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.
Sacks’ new book also heralds an age of increased religiosity.
“Even if no one is persuaded to become religious, if you just look at birthrates throughout the world, the more religious you are, the more children you have. So, just by demographics alone the 21st century is going to get increasingly religious,” he claimed.
He said increasingly young people are turning to religion, but religions that preach “extremism, radicalism and violence.”
He decried dwindling populations of Christians across the Middle East, calling the threats many face by extremist Islamic groups such as the Islamic State, the “religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing.”