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Board meets London mayor

Last updated: 2004-02-10

Officers of the Board of Deputies met with London's Mayor Ken Livingstone to discuss a variety of issues affecting the Jewish community. 

The group comprised Vice Presidents Jerry Lewis, Flo Kaufmann and Eleanor Lind, Treasurer Clive Lewisohn and Director General Neville Nagler.

The Board explained that the current rise in antisemitic incidents across the country made the Jewish community feel increasingly vulnerable.  They welcomed the Mayor's efforts to ban rallies in Trafalgar Square by extremist groups from both the Far Right and Islamist extremists.  The Mayor said that he would welcome the Board's support for powers to ban marches in sensitive areas.

Board officers were particularly concerned over the Mayor's outspoken criticism of the government of Israel and his willingness to share a platform with pro-Palestinian and Islamist groups.  Such actions exacerbated communal tensions in London and strengthened support for extremists.  It would be far better not to import the problems of the Middle East on to the streets of London.  The Mayor insisted on his right to speak out on important political issues and stood by his well-documented hostility to Israel.  But he emphasised his abhorrence of antisemitism, and made clear his wish to work with the Jewish community on cultural issues. 

He had in mind to initiate a festival of Jewish culture, which might take place in a year or two, to highlight the contribution of the Jewish community to London life.  He said it was part of his role to work with all the communities in London, and looked forward to further meetings with the Board to take forward his proposals.

Following the meeting Jerry Lewis commented, "Despite our full and frank exchange over the Mayor's strong personal views on Israel, our discussions were worthwhile.  We welcome his efforts to tackle antisemitism and racism, and look forward to working with him to celebrate the place of the Jewish community as part of London's rich heritage."