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Last updated: 2003-03-24

In the course of yesterday’s plenary meeting of the Board of Deputies, the Acting President, Henry Grunwald, made the following statement:

“I should like to explain the Board’s stance on the war with Iraq. First, I must emphasise that this is not our war; the Jewish community as such does not have a single specific view on the war. Nor is this Israel’s war: indeed, we hope and pray that Israel will not in any way be dragged into the war. In the light of these basic facts, the Board has refrained from making any public statement on a war with Iraq. Each of us may have our own private opinions on whether or not to support the war – but that is a matter for each of us individually. As a community, we do not have a formal view on the war, and that is why neither the Board nor any other communal organisation has articulated such a view, whether in support of or in opposition to the stance taken by the British government.

“We may readily support the need to deal with Saddam Hussein who is an avowed supporter of terrorism, especially Palestinian terrorism, and an undoubted threat to the Middle East. And now that war has begun, I am sure we would all want to see the Allied forces succeed as quickly and as effectively as possible in their aim of removing Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, while causing the minimum harm and damage to the civilian population in Iraq.

“Within our own country, we must do all we can to avoid exacerbating tensions between different communities and seek to avoid any aggravation of incidents aimed at particular communities. As we have repeatedly stated, we must not allow events in the Middle East to spill over on to the streets of Britain. And in this connection I greatly regret the statement made by the Muslim Council of Britain describing the war with Iraq as part of a Zionist and American neo-Conservative agenda. This is a most unhelpful and misguided comment which we utterly repudiate. For our part, far from seeking to demonise any single community, we take the view that if any attacks take place against people of a particular community or against places of worship, whether Jewish, Moslem, or those of any other faith, we will most certainly condemn them. For the present, as a community we must remain vigilant and cooperate with the Community Security Trust who are monitoring the security situation at national level and are in close contact with the police.”