By Marcus Dysch
January 24, 2013
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.
What’s the difference between the two cases?
I think we should be told.