Spot the difference?


By Marcus Dysch
January 24, 2013
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The comments made by the Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman in relation to the Jewish Leadership Council this week were shocking and bizarre.

Mr Wineman is the leading elected representative of the British Jewish community.

It is impossible to imagine what was going through his head when he joked about the wealth and “bank balances” of senior JLC members.

What is perhaps even more remarkable is that he spoke in such a way despite also chairing the JLC’s council of members.

There was no apology from Mr Wineman this week, just a denial that he had “denigrated” the JLC.

Less than a year ago Board vice-president Jonathan Arkush told a similar plenary meeting that the JLC was “unelected, unaccountable and...unacceptable" – two of those points are fact, the third is merely open to debate.

On that occasion Mick Davis, the JLC chairman, attacked Mr Arkush, claiming his comments had been an “unwarranted and egregious attack”. Board treasurer Laurence Brass and then joint vice-president Jerry Lewis said Mr Arkush should "consider taking a break from communal politics".

A week later Mr Arkush wrote to deputies to apologise, saying his comments were “inappropriate” and blaming their utterance on his being “unwell”. He was removed from a liaison committee set up to aid the two organisations, and discovered his ticket to represent the Board at the Aipac conference in Washington had swiftly disappeared.

Now the Board president makes remarks that are arguably far more cutting, inflammatory and insulting – acknowledging the JLC’s lack of democracy and joking about the wealth of its members.

Yet there has been no apology from Mr Wineman, no calls for him to resign, and no intervention from Mr Davis.

Why?

What’s the difference between the two cases?

I think we should be told.

COMMENTS

Jenni Frazer

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:51

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Well, here's a fascinating thing. This is what was included in Vivian's letter to deputies today:

"May I turn now to the beginning of the meeting in order to clarify comments I made in relation to the JLC and the meeting at the Prime Minister's office last week. I used language that was unfair in its implication towards the JLC and its members. The point I was trying to make was that the President and Honorary Officers of the Board do not have power but rather authority and that such authority as they have derives from the Deputies themselves.

That was supposed to be my clear message at the onset of our debate. I had no intention of confusing that message or saying anything which might be construed as critical. Post meeting however, seeing my words in cold print I realised just how such a construction could be made.

The truth is that I am not only proud to serve the community as the Board's President but I am also privileged to Chair the JLC membership council whose members are there solely because of the valuable service they give to organisations which are the life blood of our community and with whom it is an honour to work. I certainly did not intend any criticism of them. This applies particularly to Mick Davis, chairman of the Trustees of the JLC, whose qualities I have praised on several occasions. I want to thank him for all his work and for obtaining the meeting with the Prime Minister for the community and for enabling me and `other communal leaders to participate. Mick and I have spoken and I have made this point to him. He works tirelessly on communal projects despite a busy schedule".

Why, I am shocked. Could someone, possibly, have expressed their displeasure to the Board president in the strongest terms?

As Marcus says, I think we should be told.


Ben F

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:30

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I rhetorically wonder who it was that prodded Marcus and Jenni into this obviously coordinated double barreled assault on Vivian Wineman.

I think we should be told.


joemillis1959

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:45

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I'm sure Marcus was able to pick up the content and tone because he was at the Board meeting and therefore needed no prodding.
Jenni is an excellent veteran journalist who has good sources. I'm sure no one needed to prod her into writing that.


Rich Armbach

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 11:39

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oops info in wrong place


Marcus Dysch

Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:51

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For clarity - I have just been informed that Mr Wineman in fact did apologise to JLC members - he just didn't make the apology public.

I have seen a copy of the letter Mr Wineman wrote to JLC members on January 30th to say he was "very sorry for those remarks made in the heat of the moment".

"Whilst [the comments] were not intended to be critical of the JLC or any of its members, I see with hindsight that they were easily construed as being so."

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