Board of Deputies

Methodist set up Friends of Israel group

By Robyn Rosen, July 29, 2010

A Methodist preacher has set up a Methodist Friends of Israel group as a response to her church's call to boycott Israel.

Earlier this month the Methodist conference passed a report calling for a boycott of goods from "illegal" West Bank settlements, and for political lobbying to end Israel's occupation and the "siege of Gaza".

The decision was widely criticised and the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council said the church should "hang its head in shame".

Pam Smith, a preacher in Monmouth, South Wales, created a website and Facebook group to gain support for Israel.

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Anger over Cameron Gaza comments

By Rob Lyons, July 29, 2010

Prime Minister David Cameron's description of Gaza as a "prison camp" prompted anger this week from all quarters.

Mr Cameron, addressing Turkish businessmen in Ankara on Tuesday, declared: "The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable." And in reference to the Israeli blockade, he added: "Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

The remarks led to consternation that the PM should apparently use criticism of Israel as a vehicle by which to promote closer relations with Turkey.

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Gove: free schools 'can still be totally Jewish'

By Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2010

Jewish parents hoping to set up new schools under the coalition government's flagship education proposals may have to take pupils of different faiths - at the expense of Jewish pupils.

Empowering parents to set up free schools was a key pledge in the Conservative election campaign, but those schools must take 50 per cent of pupils without reference to religion.

The 50 per cent ceiling on faith admissions for new academies was introduced under Labour, but the Coalition government has decided not to lift it, so it will apply to new free schools as well.

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Full text of anti-Israel activist acquittal revealed

By Marcus Dysch and Jessica Elgot, July 22, 2010

The full transcript has been revealed for the first time of a judge's summing-up in the trial of seven anti-Israel activists acquitted of damaging an arms factory in January 2009.

Judge George Bathurst-Norman had told the jury at Lewes Crown Court that the group's leader should be awarded the George Cross for his campaign.

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Pledge to fight EU shechita ban

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

The president of Shechita UK has urged the community to lobby MPs to prevent new EU regulations requiring kosher meat to be labelled "meat from slaughter without stunning".

Last month the European Parliament voted in favour of the amendment to the provision of food information to consumers, just two weeks after New Zealand banned kosher slaughter.

Henry Grunwald QC urged the Board of Deputies on Sunday to contact their MPs before the bill comes back for discussion in September.

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Manchester reviews campus extremism rules

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

Manchester University has reviewed its code of practice following a series of appearances from hate preachers.

Jonathan Arkush, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said he hoped the new code would be used as a "template" for other universities.

Earlier this year, the Federation of Student Islamic Societies' (FoSIS) Palestine Conference held talks at the university by Dr Azzam Tamimi, who has told students he "longs to be a martyr"; and Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide.

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International Israel support initiative launched

By Leon Symons, July 22, 2010

An unprecedented show of support for Israel has come from a group of almost entirely non-Jewish European and American politicians, statesmen and women and theologians.

Led by former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, they have formed the Friends of Israel Initiative, to oppose the rising tide of criticism and delegitimisation that has questioned Israel's right to exist and act in self-defence.

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Protests over Dawkins faith school film

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

The Board of Deputies and a Jewish primary school have pulled out of a film about faith schools by controversial atheist Richard Dawkins, after parents protested.

Barnes Hassid Productions approached the Board in June about the documentary, due to air in August on More 4 and Channel 4.

Jonathan Arkush, senior vice-president of the Board, agreed to be interviewed, together with education representatives from the Church of England and the Association of Muslim Schools.

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Board of Deputies cuts links with Methodists

By Marcus Dysch, July 8, 2010

The Board of Deputies has broken off all contact with the leadership of the Methodist Church following its endorsement of a report deeply critical of Israel.

A spokesperson for the Board said: "There cannot be any engagement with the leadership of the Methodist Church until such a time that we see signs of a change in their stance."

But both sides vowed to continue interfaith work at a local level, encouraging members of Methodist and Jewish communities to maintain regular dialogue.

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Board celebrates 250th anniversary

By Marcus Dysch, June 24, 2010

Past and present members of the Board of Deputies were a hat-maker's dream as they arrived at the organisation's 250th anniversary celebration on Sunday in fedoras, panamas, bowlers, an Ajex beret and even a top hat adorned with peacock feathers.

The 200-plus guests were honouring the request of the late Gertrude Shilling, a deputy known for the extravagant millinery creations she wore annually to the Royal Ascot race meeting.

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