Board challenge on terror

By Leon Symons, June 6, 2008

Three members of a Jewish human-rights organisation have accused the Board of Deputies of misusing its claim to speak for the Jewish community.

Richard Kuper, newly elected chair of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and two colleagues, Professor Irene Bruegel and Murray Glickman, have complained about a submission to the Home Office last August by the Board and the Community Security Trust on the Counter Terrorism Bill 2007.

In it, the Board said it agreed with the then head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, that terror suspects should be detained for up to 56 days before being charged. Currently it is 28 days.

In a letter to the JC, they questioned why the Board was discussing the subject and complained that in saying it spoke for the Jewish community, it ignored “very real divisions” in it.

But Board chief executive Jon Benjamin rejected the challenge. He said: “The Board is invited to respond to many requests by government departments, in common with numerous other organisations.

“If we believe we can make a worthwhile contribution we will. Such consultations are open to anyone and it is then for Parliament to debate the issues. The Board is mandated by a large swathe of the community to address all sorts of matters. To ignore that and hold some kind of further public consultation on every issue is both unreasonable and unworkable”.

Last updated: 10:54am, June 5 2008