What is Mick Davis going to do?
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It seems that I opened a can of worms last week when I drew attention in the Jerusalem Post to the fact that the UJIA had appointed a bitter critic of Israel, Joe Millis, as its PR and communications manager.
Mr Millis had for some time been promoting a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements which he stressed included East Jerusalem (the Old City and adjacent Jewish suburbs) which, he claimed, unquestionably represents “occupied territory”.
He also achieved notoriety with statements such as “Israel is being murdered in its sleep by zealots” or “Israel isn’t Judaism. And is becoming a footnote in history”.
Joe Millis enraged people even further by comparing Israel to Syria and Iran.
I stressed that Mr Millis, who had lived in Israel and served in the army, was entitled to his abhorrent opinions but that it was unconscionable for the communal fund raising charity for Israel to appoint such a person as its PR head.
I also pointed out that UJIA chairman Mick Davis, who also heads the Jewish Leadership Council, should be held accountable for such a contemptible appointment.
To date, the UJIA has merely circulated a defensive response from Mr Millis in which he spins an extraordinary fantasy, portraying himself as a devoted Zionist, but failed to refute even a single quote attributed to him.
He claims to have changed his outlook but, as recently as 30 May, he tweeted to Jeremy Newmark, the CEO of the JLC: “Zionist #BDS is not a boycott of Israel, it helps the fight against our one staters”.
If Mr Millis now rejects the obscene positions he unrelentingly promoted over the years, the time to have publicly repudiated his former views would have been before he assumed his new role, rather than now in response to calls for his resignation.
In any self-respecting Jewish community there would have been tumultuous protests against such an appointment.
But to date, the UK Jewish establishment has responded to this bizarre situation with deafening silence.
Board of Deputies president, Vivian Wineman, referred to his own efforts to “turn the UK Jewish community into a powerful voice for fighting the assault upon Israel’s legitimacy”. If that is so, how could he remain indifferent to the appointment of a person openly demonising Israel as the PR chief of the UJIA?
In his response, Mick Davis bizarrely insisted that he had never met and was unaware of the opinions held by Mr Millis. But setting that aside, now that Mr Davis can no longer feign ignorance of his spokesman’s long-standing hostility towards Israel, what is the head of the UJIA going to do about it?