Board say no to Hassassian address

By Simon Rocker, December 29, 2010

Vivian Wineman, the president of the Board of Deputies, has rejected a proposal to invite the Palestinian Authority's UK envoy, Manuel Hassassian, to address the organisation.

Board treasurer Laurence Brass had urged Mr Wineman to "grasp the nettle" and extend an invitation to Professor Hassassian. But Mr Wineman said: "We will not be inviting him. I am opposed and I believe the overwhelming majority of the executive are opposed as well." He said it would be "doubly inappropriate at this stage in the peace process with talks stalled for the Board to be hosting him".

The idea of inviting Mr Hassassian had been raised at recent meetings of the Board by another deputy, Roger Winfield, who represents the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood.

In a letter to Mr Wineman, Mr Brass had argued that there was an "obligation" to community leaders to adopt "a more open and receptive attitude towards discussion about Israel".

Mr Brass said this week that although "disappointed" by the response, "I fully respect and accept the president's decision and shall not be pursuing this matter further at the present time."

Three years ago Mr Brass and Mr Winfield failed in an attempt to change the Board's policy away from what Mr Brass said was its "slavish following of the Israeli government line without any criticism".

Last updated: 3:05pm, December 29 2010