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Board should shut up

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2005-08-31

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

So the Board of Deputies of British Jews finally got what they wanted, an appointment for London Mayor Ken Livingstone with the Standards Board for England.

The so-called "representative body of British of the Jewish community" took exception when London's colourful and outspoken Mayor in February likened a reporter from the Evening Standard newspaper with that of a Nazi concentration camp guard despite letting the Mayor know he was a member of the tribe.
Despite coming out and saying: ""I wish to say to those Londoners that my words were not intended to cause such offence and that my view remains that the Holocaust against the Jews is the greatest racial crime of the 20th century," this does not appear to be good enough for the Board.
Sure, what the mayor said was off the cuff and not polite, but given his long standing run-ins with Associated Newspapers, owners of the Evening Standard over the years, it is quite likely this was a culmination of behind the scenes issues that have been heating up.
Livingstone was coming out of an evening event when he was confronted by the journalist and said what he said. But did he really mean it?  Of course not.  It was something said to a journalist who himself should be made of stronger stuff.
No-one is perfect and Livingstone himself far from it, but by focusing on this matter and trying to make it into an even bigger thing than what it really was, shows the Board has more time on its hands to further show how undemocratic and how unrepresentative they really are of the Jewish community.
How many people did they really ask in the community before they decided to act like a tell tale? Most people I have spoken to in the six months or so since the incident came to light feel that it was a small matter that exploded and not something to get worried or concerned about, let alone want to see the Mayor brought to task over.
It exploded because it was the agenda of the Evening Standard to make an issue out of it for their own gain. They have a well-publicised feud with the Mayor, this gives them further ammunition to use against him
It's a classic newspaper ploy but it's not something the Board of Deputies should be involved in.
The Board jumped on it because they generally don't have much to jump on about. For their own existence they need to be seen foaming at the mouth and worrying about issues to justify the annual levy Jewish people like myself fund them with so they can keep their jobs and positions.
But behind the Board lies an undemocratic and unelected organisation that claims to speak for all Jews when it fact it speaks for itself claiming to be in the best interests of Anglo-Jewry.
Anglo-Jewry needs representation, what it doesn't really need is the Board of Deputies in its present shape and make up.
If Ken Livingstone said this all the time, it would be a different matter, but this was an isolated incident that the Jewish community should have no worry about.
Of course Ken Livingstone is not anti-Semitic, he may be anti-Associated Newspapers and the way the publishing groups was run during the 1930s but you can't accuse him of hating Jews in London or indeed anywhere else. His views on Israel and Palestine are another issue, but jumping on board Livingstone as a way to knock him down because of what he has said about Israel is not the right way to go about things.
Ken Livingstone has said enough he doesn't need to say anymore. By trying to force him to say more or indeed get him before some sort of tribunal, does not benefit the Jewish community in anyway.  It just makes the Jewish community look like they have an ulterior motive and agenda against the Mayor. 
Maybe the Board has something against the Mayor and this is the first time in Livingstone's political life that they can get back at him?
It's time the Board started to come clean about its motives and why it does what it does.
If only someone could take the Board to a standards authority for their lack of standards and care shown to the Jewish community over the years in not addressing real issues of concern and importance to the Jewish community in London and across Britain.