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Last updated: 2003-05-20

Charles Kennedy MP has told Board of Deputies leaders that he is closely following the present rise in anti-Semitism and finds the trend “alarming”.

The Liberal Democrat leader explained that his presence at a Stop The War rally in February had been an extremely difficult decision: he did not support the anti-Israel slogans prevalent at the rally, but had felt it right to take the opportunity to spell out his party’s opposition to war in Iraq. He confirmed: “Liberal Democrats do not support calls for the destruction of Israel. But without a solution to the issue of Israel and the Palestinians, there is no way of getting peace in the region.”

The Board delegation comprised Henry Grunwald (the new President), Jerry Lewis and Flo Kaufmann (Vice-Presidents) and Neville Nagler (Director General). Henry Grunwald commented:

“We had an extremely frank and useful discussion. Charles Kennedy shared our concerns over the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. We did not agree that he should have spoken at a rally dominated by anti-Israel slogans, but we respect his decision. We discussed with him the use of extreme language which not only creates a climate of anti-Semitic incitement but also contributes to the misunderstanding and lack of balance over the Middle East displayed by some politicians and sections of the media. We also alerted him to a number of domestic concerns affecting the community, on which he made it clear that he would welcome more material from the Board.”