UK Chief Rabbi Blesses War Crimes in Gaza

Jonathan Cook reflects on Ephraim Mirvis and his religious incitement to crimes against humanity.

The U.K. chief rabbi with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a Chanukah reception at the prime minister’s residence in London on Dec. 21, 2022. (Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street)

By Jonathan Cook

Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, spoke at a public event at a synagogue earlier this month to extol the “outstanding” performance of the Israeli military in Gaza. He did so days before South Africa began to argue before the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Israel is committing genocide in the enclave.

Whether Israel is eventually found to be perpetrating genocide may prove more a political decision than a legal verdict, given the pressures on the 15 judges from their respective national leaderships.

But it is indisputable that Israel has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza. It is known to have killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and seriously wounded tens of thousands more. It has driven from their homes the overwhelming majority of the enclave’s population of 2.3 million — that is, Israel has ethnically cleansed them.

Israel has repeatedly bombed the “safe zones” to which it has ordered civilians to flee, as well as critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, mosques, churches and bakeries. It has imposed a “complete siege” that is denying food, aid and medicine, leading to mass starvation and the spread of lethal disease.

Video footage has shown Israeli soldiers in Gaza gleefully smashing up shops; stripping Palestinian men and boys to their underwear; and shooting civilians, including women, in the street as they carry white flags. Soldiers even executed three of Israel’s hostages trying to escape captivity and surrender with an SOS sign.

Yet Britain’s chief rabbi, the face of Judaism in the U.K., has raised his voice to call all of this “the most outstanding possible thing.” He has gone further: he has described the troops committing these crimes “our heroic soldiers” and revealed that his own son, Danny, is assisting with the attack on Gaza in the Israeli military. He has said he is “immensely proud” of him.

Mirvis could have chosen a form of weaselly words of the kind Israel’s apologists more typically deploy. He could have argued that the Israeli military was carrying out its task in Gaza as best as it could in near-impossible circumstances. That the Palestinians killed in Gaza were unfortunate collateral damage as the Israeli military sought to eradicate Hamas.

But he didn’t. He called the undoubted war crimes being carried out over the past three months “the most outstanding thing.”

There are several points to note about his remarks:

1. For any public figure, Jewish or otherwise, to call atrocities committed by the foreign power of Israel “outstanding” reflects a worldview that utterly dehumanizes Palestinians and is ready to incite war crimes against them. Even were The Hague court not to rule that genocide is taking place, Mirvis has clearly incited to crimes against humanity.

2. As the effective head of British Judaism, Mirvis is giving religious sanction to the carrying out of war crimes. Many of the soldiers in Gaza — a significant proportion of them religious — will now have reason to believe that the crimes they and their army have been committing over the past three months are blessed, that their mission is divinely ordained. In short, Mirvis has implied that killing Palestinians is God’s work.

A man carrying the body of a Palestinian child killed during Israel’s shelling of Gaza on Oct. 17, 2023. (Fars Media Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

3. In referring to “our heroic soldiers,” Mirvis has conflated the Jewish people with Israel. Those soldiers are not British soldiers. They are not Jewish soldiers. They are Israeli soldiers. Were you or I to do this — to suggest Jews are behind the atrocities being committed in Gaza, not a foreign national army — we would rightly be called anti-Semites. And for good reason.

Because when you confuse the identifiers “Jewish” and “Israeli,” you tar all Jews everywhere, including in the U.K., with the crimes being committed by Israel against Palestinians. You make all Jews responsible for atrocities. And you thereby make them the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes by those who fall for this malicious conflation. So in other words, Mirvis now has not only Palestinian blood on his hands but potentially Jewish blood too. His words may inspire attacks on Jews.

Block party outside South Africa’s embassy in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10 to thank Pretoria for launching a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice for committing genocide in Gaza. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

4. There is something deeply ugly — maybe sinister would be a better word — that Mirvis’ religious incitement to crimes against humanity (and very likely genocide) is viewed as entirely unremarkable by our establishment media and politicians. And yet a slogan calling for equality between Palestinians and Israelis is systematically misrepresented by these same actors to suggest it is somehow genocidal.

“From the river to the sea, Palestinians will be free” is a demand to end Israel’s unified system of apartheid across both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, a system that assigns Israeli Jews and Palestinians entirely different rights.

Reversing that can be viewed as genocidal only if you imagine that Israelis will fight to the death to stop Palestinians gaining equal rights. It reveals far more about the mindset of those who believe the slogan is genocidal than any evil intent of those chanting what is a call for liberation. That mindset is on full display in the atrocities Israel is committing in Gaza, cheered on by Jewish leaders like Mirvis.

Outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2024. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

5. Britain has a Prevent strategy with the official aim “to reduce the threat to the U.K. from terrorism by stopping people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.” In practice, the strategy is the British state’s attempt to stigmatize the Muslim community as a pool of potential terrorism recruits, surveill their community organisations and weaken legal protections against arrest and conviction.

The stated concern is that Muslims are being “radicalised” by extremist imams in their mosques — rather than by the extreme events they see, such as genocide unfolding in Gaza.

Mirvis has shown beyond doubt that extremist preachers are to be found not just in mosques but in synagogues too.

If the government is really using Prevent to end support for terrorism, it needs to apply the strategy even-handedly. Killing and seriously wounding some 100,000 Palestinians — roughly one in every 20th person in Gaza — and making almost of all the population homeless, destitute and starving surely ranks as state-organised terrorism, whether or not the court eventually rules it amounts to genocide.

Extremist Preacher

The context is that for many years Mirvis chose to study and live in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements, where Jewish extremists regularly terrorize Palestinian communities to drive them off their land. He raised at least one of his children to choose to serve in an army terrorizing and ethnically cleansing Palestinians in Gaza. Mirvis considers the soldiers committing war crimes to be “our heroes.”

In 2017 Mirvis endorsed the fanatical Jewish settlers — Israel’s equivalent of white supremacists — on their annual march through the occupied Old City of Jerusalem. Every year on that march, most of the participants are recorded waving masses of Israeli flags at Palestinians who live there and chanting “Death to the Arabs.” One Israeli newspaper columnist describes the Jerusalem Day march as a “religious carnival of hatred.” But Mirvis celebrates it.

Israeli settlers’ “flags march” through Old Jerusalem on May 13, 2018. (Nettadi, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) 

A further point. Despite the fact that, judged by any reasonable standard, Mirvis is an extremist and holds views that should be repellent to any decent person, he is held in high esteem by the British establishment, including its media.

One can understand why. In late 2019, days before the U.K. general election, Mirvis publicly accused the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, of being unfit for high office because he supposedly indulged and promoted anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The British establishment had spent years cultivating this evidence-free smear.

Mirvis argued that “the very soul of our nation is at stake” in Britain’s election. He thereby effectively called on British Jews and the British public to vote for the government.

It was an unprecedented act of electoral interference that was reported reverentially by the British media. Both the fact that Mirvis sought to influence the vote with a deception, and that the establishment media colluded with him in doing so, should have been shocking, even at the time.

But Mirvis’ latest remarks provide additional context because it is Rabbi Mirvis — not the anti-Semites — who is quite happy to flaunt his dual loyalty. Those soldiers are apparently “ours.”

So the question is this: which nation was Mirvis actually referring to when he warned shortly before the 2019 election that “the very soul of our nation is at stake?” The British nation whose religious Jews he supposedly represents, or the Israeli nation that is currently ethnically cleansing and murdering Palestinian men, women and children?

Mirvis, it seems, just gave us his answer.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021. He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008).

If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support

This article is from his blog Jonathan  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

18 comments for “UK Chief Rabbi Blesses War Crimes in Gaza

  1. Carolyn L Zaremba
    January 21, 2024 at 00:07

    I recommend Asa Winstanley’s book, “Weaponising Antisemitism” for a detailed examination of the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn.

  2. GC
    January 20, 2024 at 20:38

    Rabbi’s God is the devil. He’s got a screw loose .

  3. Peter
    January 20, 2024 at 04:17

    The ongoing deliberate methodical mass murder of countless thousands of men,women and children as the whole world watches. How is this fucking possible? If this was foretold twenty or thirty years ago no one would believe it. And that rabbi who calls it heroic and outstanding is a scumbag.

  4. Lois Gagnon
    January 19, 2024 at 16:24

    One thing I know for sure. One way or another, there is going to be hell to pay for this. This genocide will not go unanswered regardless of how the ICJ rules. Those responsible have got it in their tiny minds they are beyond accountability. Only someone who has lost touch with reality believes that about themselves. Karma will catch up with them.

  5. evelync
    January 19, 2024 at 12:32

    The two idiots in the photo at the top of this thoughtful and troubling article look extremely pleased with themselves, identifying, I suppose, with the elite in our criminal “White Supremacist Sinophobic Russophobia racist empire” . They imagine they are seen as peers. They are not…just useful idiots, I suspect…

    The unsustainability of the goals/ambitions of the DAVOS crowd will have a reckoning one day. The elite who think they rule the world use their temporary power to reward these sycophants and punish those wiser heads who are pained by the horror we are seeing around us thanks to the greed and ruthlessness at the top.

    I can only hope that the BRICS members who now seem to be the adults in the room can find legal non lethal ways to set the world right. They have plenty of bright well meaning people. Thanks to the idiocy, belligerence, militarism, greed and hubris of the WEST they are surely motivated to do so.
    They also understand that there are plenty of people in the WEST who do not buy into the horror and would welcome an end to the violence and theft.

  6. Steve
    January 19, 2024 at 10:41

    The UK shouldn’t have a chief rabbi, promoting a Satanic doctrine of wickedness.

  7. Ken
    January 19, 2024 at 10:37

    I find the Zionists and their USA enablers guilty of murder and mayhem. There is no appeal.

  8. January 19, 2024 at 10:16

    Not all extremists preachers are equal.

    Thank you Johnathan for the excellent article.

    • Em
      January 20, 2024 at 09:00

      Very respectfully spoken!
      In actuality, this person is a surreptitious betrayer of the orthodox Judaic faith in a universal ‘humanity’, as perhaps are most extremist (p)reacher (t)eachers.

  9. Poun' o' Flesh
    January 19, 2024 at 08:19

    Sishi Runak is proving worthy as the topmost zionist w***e in little Britain.

    • Valerie
      January 19, 2024 at 09:52

      He is a charlatan; a sychophant; a dismal excuse for a PM.

  10. Drew Hunkins
    January 19, 2024 at 01:25

    A stark example Jewish supremacy.

    If this were a Christian evangelical giving his blessing to a repugnant ethnic cleansing, he’d rightly be denounced as an irrational, hate filled religious sadist.

    We should do the same if it’s Judaism.

  11. Andrew Nichols
    January 18, 2024 at 22:59

    Mirvis is an advocate for terrorism and hate speech. Why isnt he arrested?

    • Andrew Nichols
      January 18, 2024 at 23:00

      If anyone publicly blessed Hamas theyd be arrested.

      • Rebecca
        January 19, 2024 at 04:13

        “Brighton-based Jewish left-winger and human rights activist Tony Greenstein faces censorship and an assault on his privacy after he was arrested last week for a single tweet supporting Palestinian resistance in Gaza against Israeli genocide.”


        See Tony’s account on his blog at hxxps://

    • Susan Siens
      January 21, 2024 at 16:42

      Excellent point, Andrew, as the UK is so fond of arresting women who say men aren’t women. Since the UK cops seem terrified of everything, Mossad may loom large in their minds.

  12. TDillon
    January 18, 2024 at 20:03

    It’s time the people of Britain and America realize that the Israelis are the bad guys, and have been since the inception of the Zionist project of Israel.
    Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won

    They have managed the mainstream media to give the public the exact opposite picture.

    Their ideology of deception is described by Jewish Israeli scholar Israel Shahak, in his book
    Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

  13. Fritz
    January 18, 2024 at 19:21

    Murdering children is praised as noble when it is done by the psychopathic Zionists, to give voice against this abomination is to be smeared as anti-Semtic.

    Maybe I am missing something about 21st century politically correct speech. ?

Comments are closed.