A proper legacy
Enoch Powell’s famous maxim that all political careers end in failure is not entirely true, as Jonathan Arkush’s term as President of the Board of Deputies shows. It is not a political role as such but it is nonetheless intensely political in the sense of needing fine judgment and building coalitions of support.
It is to Mr Arkush’s immense credit that he has decided to step down after one term, when people are wondering why he has not stood again, rather than after two terms, when they might wonder why he did. Mr Arkush has not been afraid to lead; he has not always made the right call but better a leader who sometimes takes a misstep than one who is afraid to say anything of substance lest someone is upset.
The Board itself is in better shape than for many years, with excellent professional staff and cordial relations with the Jewish Leadership Council. Mr Arkush leaves a legacy of which he can be proud.
As for his successor: there are said to be attempts to coalesce around one candidate. That would be a grave mistake. The Board’s legitimacy is that it is democratic. That must mean that its leader is elected not by acclamation but through a contest.
It would be easy to greet this year’s set of CST figures with a resigned sigh. Another year, another rise in antisemitic attacks. But we should not sigh. We should not treat these latest figures as anything other than an outrage.
Yes, the statistics should be kept in proportion. Britain today is one of the safest places on earth, in human history, for Jews. But that does not make it any less outrageous that Jews are subject to attack — violent, in a record number of cases — simply for being Jewish.