Board president says Jewish Leadership Council not democratic

Mick Davis (Photo: John Rifkin)

Mick Davis (Photo: John Rifkin)

The row over who leads Anglo-Jewry has been reignited after the Board of Deputies president claimed some Jewish Leadership Council members were only invited to a meeting with the Prime Minister earlier this month because of their wealth.

Vivian Wineman made the comments at the Board plenary meeting on Sunday. Deputies have repeatedly raised concerns about the JLC’s ambitions and the makeup of its committees since it was created a decade ago.

He said the JLC was not democratic, was not respected by the community and had no authority.

“When the senior vice-president [Laura Marks] and I went to Number 10 last week we weren’t there because of the size of our bank balances or because I’m the head of a multinational company with thousands of employees,” said Mr Wineman.

“We were there by virtue only of our positions in this organisation. And this organisation is respected because of its position in the Jewish community.”

Mr Wineman also referred to a conversation he had with a JLC member while at Downing Street. He would not name the man, but said he was “one of the wealthier members there – so pretty well off… I mean particularly so”.

He went on to say that the JLC was “obviously not a democracy and doesn’t claim to be”.

Mr Wineman also chairs the JLC’s council of members. JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark said Mr Wineman had not repeated the remarks at a JLC meeting on Monday.

“In opening that meeting Vivian thanked Mick Davis and the JLC for setting up the meeting at Downing Street,” said Mr Newmark.

Sources close to the JLC questioned the value to the community of anybody focusing upon “distractions” from the fact that communal leaders are able to secure regular direct access to senior political figures.

An extraordinary row broke out 11 months ago after then Board senior vice-president Jonathan Arkush accused the JLC of being “unelected, unaccountable and unacceptable to the community”.

Those remarks were applauded by deputies, but JLC chairman Mick Davis said it was an “unwarranted and egregious attack”. Mr Arkush was forced to make a public apology.

Mr Davis was unavailable for comment following Mr Wineman’s remarks.

Last updated: 3:03pm, January 24 2013