Ephraim Mirvis says Britain must remain focused on the values of peace and tolerance in the wake of Saturday’s terror attack that left at least seven people dead.
The Chief Rabbi has called on Londoners to “stand defiant” after three terrorists rammed and stabbed people at London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night, leaving seven dead and dozens injured.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the scenes of loss and horror were “all too familiar” but that the response should mirror that of the Manchester Arena attack two weeks ago and of the Westminster Bridge attack in March.
As interfaith groups warned of “scapegoating and hatred” in response, Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said the response must be “to continue living life with vigilance, determination and solidarity,” adding: “As in Manchester, when confronted by hate, we choose love.”
Mirvis struck a similar note, saying: “We will not be cowed or intimidated, nor will we allow our commitment to the values of peace and tolerance to be diminished. In the face of every attack, however devastating, we must continue to cleave ever closer to these values because ultimately they are what will defeat the evil of terror.”
Likewise Charley Baginsky, on behalf of Liberal Judaism, said: “Words like ‘we will stay strong’ and ‘we are united’ are essential. We recognise how exhausting it can be to wake up and go to sleep worried for loved ones, our children’s future and for ourselves. But we must stand by our words, and greet this hatred with love.”
Their message stood in stark contrast to that of Prime Minister Theresa May, who said: “We must not pretend things can continue as they are…Enough is enough.”
May said attackers were being “radicalised online,” but Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said any attempt to “control” the internet would see a curtailment in the very freedoms terrorists abhor, likening such a move to the actions of North Korea.
Ahead of a Monday night vigil, Mirvis said: “In the wake of yet another attack, of more loss of life and of more families devastated by terror, every one of us will once again feel the now too familiar sense of horror and helplessness.”
He added: “After Westminster and Manchester we stood together defiant. Yet it seems the terrorists believe that where they have previously failed to poison our communities, with their destructive ideology of hatred and prejudice, they can succeed with still more bloodshed and murder. But we must not let them.”
Board of Deputies chief executive Gillian Merron hit on the same subject, saying: “People of all faiths and none must come together to defeat this evil.”
Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson and London Jewish Forum chairman Adrian Cohen offered thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, and paid tribute to the “fearless” work of the emergency services.
Cohen added: “The aim of such attacks is to instil fear into the public, but Londoners will not be intimidated and will carry on in defiance.”
From the continent, European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said the attack was “timed for just before the general elections” and “was meant to cower and instil fear in a great democracy… However, we saw the resilience of the British people last night and we know it will continue as the government and police will do its utmost to find those behind these slayings”.
In a joint statement, the co-chairs of the Inter Faith Network said: “We must continue to work together for a respectful and positive society where people feel valued and included and safe and where all can flourish free from fear.
“Attacks such as these can bring scapegoating and acts of hatred in their wake. Let us work to try and prevent that and respond together to assist whenever necessary.
May blamed “Islamist extremism” as eyewitnesses said the three men stabbed people shouting: “This is for Allah.” However, the INF reminded the public that the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox almost a year ago was not motivated by Islamist extremism but rather by “an extremist of a different kind”.