Boycotter blames the Board for antisemitism in Britain

Tony Greenstein of JBiG attacks the Board of Deputies on BBC1

Tony Greenstein of JBiG attacks the Board of Deputies on BBC1

The Board of Deputies is to blame for rising antisemitism in Britain, according to a leading member of a Jewish anti-Israel group.

Tony Greenstein, of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG), was speaking on the BBC1 debate show, The Big Questions, on Sunday morning.

During the wide-ranging discussion, Mr Greenstein said: “Of course there’s no justification for antisemitism, but there’s also no justification for the Board of Deputies calling rallies in support of the invasion of Lebanon and Gaza in the name of the British Jewish community. That causes antisemitism.

“It associates every Jewish person with the terror in Lebanon and Gaza.”

Among those debating issues including the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the need for synagogues to employ security guards, were Alex Goldberg, of the London Jewish Forum; Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust; and Israeli-born anti-Zionist Professor Haim Bresheeth.

Prof Bresheeth said many people in Britain were “justifiably irate about what Israel has done in Gaza”.

Jonathan Sacerdoti, of the Zionist Federation, responded by saying attempts to burn down shuls in London had “nothing to do with Zionism or Israeli policy in the Middle East”.

Hadar Sela, who has dual British-Israeli citizenship, said: “If you have a gripe with Israeli foreign policy then that’s great, you’re entitled to have a gripe with it, but come to me. I’m Israeli. Come and make your gripe with me, not with British Jews.

“When things happen in Sri Lanka or China nobody takes it out on Chinese or Sri Lankan people in Britain, and so they shouldn’t. They also should not take it out on British Jews.”

Following the broadcast, the Board of Deputies defended the peace rallies it helped organise in London and Manchester at the height of the Gaza conflict in January.

A spokesman said: “It is regrettable that Mr Greenstein doesn’t feel that there was any justification for the rallies. Fortunately we know of at least 17,000 people between London and Manchester who would disagree with him.

“British Jews are desperate for peace in Israel and desperate for an end to terror. The suggestion that we should expect to be victims of hate crime because of that is insulting and dangerous.”

    Last updated: 11:00am, November 19 2009