Board urges less aggresive approach from zionists

The president of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, has called on Jewish groups to lower the temperature of arguments over Israel and avoid abusive language.

He suggests that they follow the example of the Stanmore Accords, the 1998 agreement between Orthodox and non-Orthodox synagogue movements to refrain from slanging matches in public.

He told a meeting on Israel at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue last week: "An equivalent of the Stanmore Accords, where differences were acknowledged but treated with respect, would be of benefit not only to the groups themselves but to the community generally."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Wineman said: "The level of Zionist debate is very strident at the moment. We are not trying to stifle debate but to have it conducted in a more respectful atmosphere.

"It's unfortunate when someone argues, not simply that the other person is wrong, but calls them an idiot."

Right-wing Zonists, he says, should avoid terms like "traitors" to denounce their left-wing opponents, while left-wing Zionists should avoid describing right-wingers as "crypto-fascists".

Mr Wineman said that he had become more aware of the problem after his first year as president of the Board, "holding the ring.

"I see the response of outsiders when Zionist groups attack each other - it discredits us all. The only beneficiaries are the enemies of Israel."

He also said that drawing comparisons with the Holocaust should be avoided in inter-communal debates about Israel, citing one instance when the removal of settlers from Gaza was described as "the biggest expulsion of Jews since 1942".

    Last updated: 2:07pm, June 3 2010