Board slams IJV claim
by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-02-06
Board of Deputies
The Board of Deputies has hit back over claims by the newly launched Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) group that it does not represent the best interests of British Jews.
The group which has support from prominent academics and celebrities including Stephen Fry, fashion designer Nicole Farhi, Oxford research fellow Brian Klug and lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman says the Board is doing a disservice to British Jews.
In an article for The Guardian, Klug wrote: "On its own account, the Board of Deputies of British Jews (which calls itself "the voice of British Jewry") devotes much of the time and resources of its international division to "the defence of Israel". When a "solidarity rally" was held in London last July in the midst of the conflict with Lebanon, it was the board that organised it. All of which suggests that British Jewry, speaking with one voice, stands solidly behind the Israeli government and its military operations."
He added: "The Board has no business taking a partisan position on the Middle East. Let groups such as the Zionist Federation or perhaps the Israeli embassy organise solidarity rallies. The role of The Board is to promote the welfare of British Jews in all their variety, not to defend Israel.
Responding to Klug, Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin has written in today's Guardian: "IJV's signatories seem unaware that the debates they believe they are initiating already take place within the board and other parts of the Jewish community - and include those who regularly criticise Israeli policies."
He added: "The overwhelming view, reflected at The Board, but to be found throughout the community, is one of support for Israel; not necessarily every action of its government, but its right to exist, the right all of its citizens of whatever faith to live in peace and security and, as a corollary, the right of Israel to defend itself."