UJIA chair threats to sue over resignation petition

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman

A petition calling for the resignation of UJIA chairman Mick Davis over his outspoken criticism of Israel has been closed after he threatened to sue its creator.

Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chairman of the Zionist Federation, set up the petition after Mr Davis criticised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, encouraged the airing of moral concerns over Israeli policy and warned that Israel could become an apartheid state if a two-state solution failed to materialise.

Around 100 people had signed the petition, attacking the comments and pledging "not to donate a penny" to UJIA until he left his role.

On Sunday Mr Davis emailed Mr Hoffman to complain that the text of the petition gave an untrue version of his original comments by suggesting he believed anything short of a Palestinian state would amount to "apartheid". In the email he wrote: "Either frame your petition properly, accurately setting out my position, or take down your mischaracterisations. If you do not, I will sue to have them removed and for you to issue an appropriate apology. I will obviously donate any damages I receive to the UJIA."

In response, Mr Hoffman said: "Because Mick Davis has far deeper pockets than me, I have closed the petition to new signatories and have taken steps to take down the petition.

"How sickening that the man who wants 'a new global Jewish conversation' uses his financial muscle to close down legitimate criticism of his comments."

Mr Davis said he was "more than happy" for debate about his comments to continue, but wanted his position to be accurately represented.

In a separate case, Mr Hoffman's membership of the Board of Deputies' International Division has been suspended for one week. He was involved in a verbal clash with division chairman Paul Edlin.

Mr Hoffman said attempts had been made to "humiliate" him during the meeting, and that he had defended his "dedicated Israel activism".

A Board spokeswoman confirmed a member of the division had been suspended, but declined to comment further.

Last updated: 12:32pm, March 17 2011