Zionist Federation keeps Rabbi Rich as patron

By Simon Rocker, February 6, 2012

The Zionist Federation has rejected a move to oust Rabbi Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, as one of its patrons.

ZF joint vice-chairman Jonathan Hoffman tabled the resolution to remove him at a meeting of a national council last week.

Although Mr Hoffman declined to comment, it is understood that he complained about Rabbi Rich's recent participation in a church event with Peter Kosminsky, the director of The Promise, Channel 4's contentious drama on the birth of Israel, and anti-Zionist Deborah Fink.

He also took issue with Rabbi Rich's view that advocates of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict are not by definition antisemitic.

Harvey Rose, ZF chairman, commented: "At a private meeting of our board last Thursday a proposal was made to remove Rabbi Rich as a patron of the ZF. This was rejected."

But he added that the patrons of the ZF, including Rabbi Rich, would be asked to reaffirm their allegiance to the Jerusalem Programme – the World Zionist Organisation's manifesto.

The Jerusalem Programme refers to the "centrality of Israel" to the Jewish people and to strengthening Israel as "a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state".

Rabbi Rich, who is on a trip to Israel this week, said: "Jonathan Hoffman's petty campaign against me does neither him nor the Zionist Federation any credit. Perhaps now that his views have been comprehensively rejected by his ZF executive colleagues, he will find a more constructive cause for his undoubted energy.

"He is in danger of being out of touch with those of us who consider ourselves real friends of Israel, who advocate for Israel in places where others fear to tread."

Charlie Gluckman, who represents the Progressive movement, Pro- Zion, at the ZF, said: "Rabbi Rich is an ardent Zionist who has represented the UK at the World Zionist Congress and is supportive of Israel and Zionism.

"He has attended events where there are people who are considered anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. The fact he wants to go and speak is a positive thing for the Anglo-Jewish community because he represents Zionism in a constructive manner."

Last updated: 2:38pm, February 6 2012