Board of Deputies of British Jews- Community Briefing
by Comunidad Judía · 19 Tevet 5780 – 16 January, 2020
‘Rebuilding will take more than mild expressions of regret’ – The Board of Deputies launches its Ten Pledges for Labour leadership and deputy leadership candidates. This week, the Board of Deputies released its Ten Pledges, identifying the ten key points we believe Labour needs to sign up to in order to begin healing its relationship with the Jewish community.
All leadership candidates have signed up to the pledges. However, Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon, who are standing for the deputy leadership, have as yet failed to give the pledges their support.
Following Jeremy Corbyn’s four years in office, during which time antisemitism in the party became a matter of great anxiety for the UK’s Jews, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl expressed the hope that the new leader will address the problem promptly and energetically.
On Sunday, Marie said: “Tomorrow afternoon, nominations from MPs and MEPs for both Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership elections will close, giving the general public a better idea of the likely candidates for those offices.
“Some of those hoping to take the Labour party forward have spoken of their regret at the party’s lack of action on antisemitism under the current leadership, as well as the need to do things differently. Others have said nothing at all on the subject. A few appeared to have tailored their message depending on which section of the party they have been addressing.
“We will be frank. The relationship between Labour and the Jewish community, once rock solid, has been all but destroyed. Rebuilding will take more than mild expressions of regret. It will take a firm public commitment to agree to a specific course of action.
“Our Ten Pledges identify the key points we believe Labour needs to sign up to in order to begin healing its relationship with our community.
“All of these points, in one form or another, have previously been put to Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team. Regrettably, action on any of these issues was limited at best, non-existent at worst.
“While there are many issues of importance to the British Jewish community, including religious freedom and security, as well as general matters such as health and education, without serious action on antisemitism it is hard to trust the Labour party on any other issue.
“We expect that those seeking to move the party forward will openly and unequivocally endorse these Ten Pledges in full, making it clear that if elected as leader or deputy leader, they will commit themselves to ensuring the adoption of all these points.”
Event launched in support of the Chinese Uyghur Muslims The Board of Deputies has announced an event in partnership with the World Uyghur Congress, to ask how communities can unite to protect the Uyghur Muslim minority from persecution in China.
The event will take place in the House of Commons on Thursday 30th January 2020, sponsored by Dr Lisa Cameron MP. Speakers include Government Advisor on Islamophobia Imam Qari Asim, Senior Rabbi of Reform Judaism Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, and Rahima Mahmut from the World Uyghur Congress. The event will be chaired by Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron.
Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker, who will also speak at the event, said: “Interfaith cooperation is extremely important in the struggle against the oppression and persecution faced by the Uyghur people in China. Because of our history, British Jews will refuse to turn a blind eye to the persecution of an entire community, anywhere.”
Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, said: “I would like to thank the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Rabbi Laura-Janner Klausner and Imam Qari Asim for pushing forward with this event against the oppression and persecution faced by the Uyghur people in China. In this time of grave crisis, it is essential to build a stronger cooperation between different groups. Uyghurs need global support from all human beings.”
ACTIVITY REPORT INTERNATIONAL Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb and International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby met American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, Director of AJC Europe Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Deputy Chief of Staff to the CEO Jillian Laskowtiz and Communications and Diplomatic Outreach Officer Julie Lenarz. They discussed continued cooperation of the Board of Deputies with the AJC, the UK General Election and post-Brexit Britain, and areas of common concern such as the global rise of antisemitism.
International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby spoke with Leon Saltiel from the World Jewish Congress about global advocacy and shared future collaborations in this work.
Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb and International Relations Officer Talia Ingleby met Armenian National Council UK Chairperson Annette Moskofian and colleagues to discuss common interests.
EDUCATION Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger visited Beis Yaakov Girls School, meeting with headteacher Mrs Natalie Barwin.
Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger attended a meeting at the Department for Education about guidance on safeguarding in out-of-school settings.
Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger attended a working group meeting about relationships and sex education at the Department for Education.
Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger attended AQA’s New Year reception in Parliament.
COMMUNITY Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb was the guest speaker at the newly-formed AJR group at South Hampstead Synagogue. She talked about the work of the Board and her role within it.
Education Policy and Youth Engagement Officer Jake Berger ran a session at a UJIA Fast Track Seminar, entitled ‘Understanding the British Jewish Community’.
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl commended Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for his donation of a grant to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation: “We applaud the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for donating a £300,000 grant to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. It is vitally important that we all come together to preserve the memory of those who were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust and educate to ensure it never happens again. The grant will give a great boost to this important work.”
Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb attended a Chelsea FC Holocaust Memorial Day event at Stamford Bridge, where a commemorative mural by Israeli British Street artist Solomon Souza was unveiled. Guest speakers included Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, and Lord Mann. Sheila was invited to decorate a stone as part of the Memorial Stones project. The stones will be placed in the foundations of the new Holocaust Memorial and Education Centre to be built in Westminster.
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