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New Statesman slammed

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-09-11

New Statesman

New Statesman

An article in the New Statesman in which a Jewish youth group is described as "hardline" for its support of an Israeli young adults programme has been slammed by the Board of Deputies.

In the article, "The British children who train to fight in Israel" by Matthew Holehouse, the Marva programme, provided by the Israel Defence Forces, is described in similar terms to that of a Islamic Jihad training camp.

Holehouse says: "... Ask yourself this question: If these were British Muslim 19 year-olds firing machine guns and running assault courses in Pakistan or Yemen, would we not have them all arrested at the airport?"

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of The Board of Deputies reacted with anger with Holehouse's statements.

"The article is clearly designed to draw hostile equivalence between British Jewish youth movement activities in Israel and Jihadi terrorist training camps, and that spurious assertion simply cannot go unchallenged," he said. "In direct contrast to Jihadi camps, Marva is in no way designed to train young Jews to become murderers.  It doesn’t teach them that it is a religious obligation to hate others, or how make suicide bombs, or how and why it is incumbent upon them to kill as many innocent civilians as possible."

Holehouse also described the Federation of Zionist Youth as "hardline", something Benjamin says is not true and dangerous to claim and to attempt to make a comparison with Jihadi camps.

"If Matthew Holehouse had taken the trouble to do any real research he could not have failed to have been struck by FZY’s tolerant, open-minded and pluralist nature that encourages dialogue, diversity and debate," Benjamin added. "The linkage endangers ordinary British youngsters now labelled as fanatics. It is mischievous and irresponsible to put this kind of narrative into the public domain, not least because it can never be fully retracted."