Board of Deputies

Anti-Israel bias taken out of UN racism paper

By Leon Symons, March 26, 2009

A new version of the final document produced by the UN’s next major human rights conference in Geneva has left out all criticism of Israel, prompting cautious optimism from the Board of Deputies’ president, Henry Grunwald.

The anti-Israeli language that characterised the final document of the original conference in South Africa, in 2001, has disappeared.

However, almost every reference bar one each to Holocaust commemoration and antisemitism has also been taken out of the new draft.


Storm over latest Hizbollah UK visit

By Leon Symons, March 26, 2009

The Board of Deputies will ask the Home Office to exclude a former Hizbollah fighter and leader of a radical Muslim group in Belgium who has been invited to speak in Britain.

Dyab Abou Jahjah has been invited to speak at a meeting of the Stop The War Coalition on Monday evening in central London. It is thought that he will also be present on Tuesday at the launch of a British branch of International Union for Parliamentarians for Palestine, of which he was made operational director in May last year.


Deputies launch anti-BNP campaign

By Leon Symons, March 19, 2009

The Board of Deputies has launched a nationwide campaign to stop the British National Party from winning seats in June’s European elections.

The growing threat posed by the far-right party was highlighted by the Board’s anti-racism co-ordinator Ruth Smeeth, who told a plenary meeting in Oxford on Sunday: “BNP leader Nick Griffin could be representing the Manchester Jewish community in Europe.”


Government under pressure to make decision on Durban

By Leon Symons, March 19, 2009

Britain will wait until the last minute before making a decision about whether or not it will participate in the Durban Review Conference in Geneva (Durban II) next month.

The prediction came from Board of Deputies’ president Henry Grunwald when he briefed deputies on the latest situation at Sunday’s plenary meeting in Oxford.

“I actually think the UK will withdraw but will wait for a while before doing so, so no-one can say they have scuppered this conference,” said Mr Grunwald.


Race is on for Board president

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2009

The most hotly contested leadership campaign in the 249-year history of the Board of Deputies is under way with four candidates already in the race to become its president.

And nominations do not close until May 1, with deputies due to vote for their leader on May 17.

This week, senior vice-president Vivian Wineman, vice-president Flo Kaufmann, former vice-president Jerry Lewis and former United Synagogue president Peter Sheldon all confirmed that they are standing for the position.


Dayan attacks plan to twin shuls with mosques

By Simon Rocker, March 5, 2009

A Board of Deputies plan for synagogues to twin with mosques in order to improve Muslim-Jewish relations has been attacked by a senior Orthodox rabbi as contrary to Jewish law.

Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, head of the Federation of Beth Din, wrote to communities under its aegis last Friday to say they should not take part “on religious grounds”.

The initiative was among a number discussed by Jewish interfaith organisations at a special meeting at the Board last week to discuss Jewish-Muslim relations.


Board reaches out to repair faith relations

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

An Islamic community centre will host a major Jewish exhibition as interfaith groups attempt to repair relations in the aftermath of the Gaza conflict.

The Board of Deputies’ Jewish Way of Life exhibition will be held at the centre in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in the spring.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of the London Jewish Forum, synagogue bodies and the Board reaffirmed their dedication to developing stronger ties with the Muslim community.


Board asks for help for Iran Bahá’is

February 26, 2009

The Board of Deputies president, Henry Grunwald QC, has written to Foreign Secretary David Miliband with a renewed call to the government to support the persecuted Bahá’i community in Iran.

The Board made representations to the government last May when six community leaders were arrested and detained. The group, including a seventh leader already in custody, has now been charged with various crimes including “insulting religious sanctity”, “undermining the Islamic Republic of Iran” and even “espionage for Israel”.


Board outraged at Vatican

By Bernard Josephs, February 19, 2009

The reinstatement by the Pope of a Holocaust-denying bishop has been condemned as an “outrage” by the Board of Deputies.

A resolution passed at Sunday’s meeting reflected communal anger at the lifting of the excommunication of the British-born ultra-traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson. The clergyman contends that the Holocaust was a Jewish invention and that “only” up to 300,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

The motion was proposed by former board president Lionel Kopelowitz, who said that a text of the resolution would be sent to the Vatican.


Board urges shuls to adopt green agenda

By Bernard Josephs, February 18, 2009

Efforts to move environmental issues up the communal agenda have been outlined by the Board of Deputies.

In a report distributed to delegates at Sunday’s meeting in Central London, the board’s Environmental and Social Issues Action Group explained: “The intention is that green issues should become a major concern rather than a minor one as currently — and that the Jewish community should become green in practice as well as in theory.”