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The prospect of a Corbyn win should be ringing alarm bells for Jewish charities

Marketing expert Lionel Salama looks at how a Corbyn government could devastate Jewish charities

    A demonstrator holding a painting saying
    A demonstrator holding a painting saying "For the many not the Jew", as people protest against anti-Semitism in the Labour party in Parliament Square, London, as Jewish community leaders have launched a scathing attack on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he has sided with anti-Semites "again and again".

    Invited over from France by William the Conqueror to support his cashflow, Jews have been here for almost 1,000 years. Apart from an enforced absence, thanks to expulsion by King Edward I in 1290, we have enjoyed good times here, prospered and made significant contributions to all walks of British life, to a scale that is disproportionate to our size.

    One that always brings a smile to my face is the national dish, fish and chips, created by Joseph Malin, an enterprising Victorian Jewish boy.

    More seriously, we’ve built a range of communal institutions, particularly in the area of social care, which are admired and have served as models for others.

    Of course, not everything is rosy. We’re now experiencing a tsunami of antisemitic outbursts, spurred on by the explosion in social media. That traditional political home for many in the Jewish community, the Labour Party, is especially rife with this disease.

    And yet, while we must always call out antisemitism — and all other forms of racism — it is the promised policies of a Corbyn government that pose the greatest threat to the future of our community.

    The success of Jewish charities is predicated on a unique fundraising model, where roughly 95 per cent of the donations come from five per cent of the donors.

    In reality, this means that around 100 communal organisations are able to function and flourish thanks to the support of about 400 families.

    It is a major donor scenario that is the envy of the charity sector, which can only marvel at how our DNA ensures an inherent commitment among those who have done well to support those in need. It is truly something to be proud of but it is now also our Achilles heel.

    We have all learnt not to rely on poll predictions but there are clearly strong signs that Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister. Despite the Shadow Chancellor’s recent schmooze of the City, many in business still see John McDonnell’s policies as a sufficiently scary prospect to start to plan their departure from the UK.

    For the Jewish community, this should be ringing some very loud alarm bells. Indeed, if the conversations I have been having and heard of are any indication, a significant proportion of our major donor families will leave if Corbyn wins the next election.

    You don’t need to be a maths genius to calculate the likely impact of this. Let’s take a low number, such as 20 per cent, deciding to leave. The current communal structure would be decimated as many organisations could not weather this reduction in support. Some have even told me that 20 per cent is far too optimistic.

    While there is no doubt that those giving to Israeli charities will continue to do so from wherever they are in the world, I can’t see absence from the UK as engendering any desire to support the old country. The recent communal unity in seeking to bring Corbyn and his flock to book over antisemitism is commendable but it is this bigger threat that needs the urgent focus.

    For several decades, many of us have called for the consolidation of our communal landscape. There are simply too many organisations for a community of our size. Yes, it is wonderful that our major donors keep this going but even their patience has been wearing thin.

    A new generation wants to see more efficiency, clearer impact and, above all, a more intelligent way of servicing the growing needs. An aging community and one that is certainly not yet meeting all the needs of those with disabilities — particularly those with learning disabilities — needs to update its delivery model through consolidation to ensure that donors will step up to the challenge of greater funding. The continued duplication of services will be met by rejection.

    This consolidation is now more urgent than ever. At best, we have just under 1,500 days until the next election. But if the Brexit process unravels or some international crisis leads to a vote of confidence, it could come much sooner.

    Instead of the unseemly sight of questionable election processes or the tepid review of communal funding, this is the moment for some bold thinking to plan the required surgery.

    This is the moment when all those who can help secure the future of our community should come together and engage in frank and open discussion.

    Just as the City and others are engaged in contingency planning for Brexit, so should the Jewish community be doing for a Corbyn premiership and a likely modern Jewish exodus.

    And if I’m wrong, we will have still done a great service by creating a new architecture that can secure even more funding from our fantastically generous donors.


    Lionel Salama is co-founder of HOPE, a brand consultancy for organisations which make a social impact.


Time to rethink Jewish charities?

Lionel Salama

Monday, April 24, 2017

Time to rethink Jewish charities?