Idea #8 - Appoint anti-antisemitism champions

November 24, 2016 22:54

During the month of March, I will be publishing a daily proposal to transform the British Jewish community. Email your own idea (up to 350 words) to

Today's idea comes from Baroness Deech: Appoint anti-antisemitism champions

Anglo Jewry needs several more anti-antisemitism champions. 

The CST does a wonderful job, and its reports are absolutely invaluable, but it is an organisation, whereas the community needs to put forward individuals with a high profile, and have a number for the media to call.

I greatly admire the work of Melanie Phillips and of Anthony Julius, both of whom have the courage to stand up to the vilifying, screaming, and unpleasant profiling that their brave and true words occasionally attract. Our spokespersons have to have the necessary dash of chutzpah needed to confront the enemies of Jews and of Israel. 

We need to protect them and stand with them - but above all we need more of them. 

Anyone who travels to the USA or to South Africa will have noticed the open way in which people can identify themselves as Jewish, whether by announcing the Jewish nature of community buildings, or by name (only in England do people feel they have to change their surnames to sound British rather than Jewish).  Only in the USA or South Africa does one see an Israeli flag hanging outside a Jewish student building on campus.  It would be defaced or torn down here. 

We need more individuals who can persuade, like John Mann MP, Ron Prosor, Jonathan Sacks and the American, Alan Dershowitz. 

Some Jewish students are being trained as Ambassadors, and that is very good news, but when will they be heard? An appalling incident took place in the Oxford Union recently, involving a student shouting either "Kill the Jews" or "Conquer the Jews" (depending on the Arabic translation), and it has met with relative silence in the press.  What would the Muslim community spokesmen's reaction have been had it been - quite unimaginably and heaven forbid  - the other way round, a call for the death of Muslims? 

Some more champions must be readily identifiable, people who know how to draw the line between antisemitism and anti-Israeli politics, who could be briefed and work together; and then the media could have one direct line to our spokespersons.

Our low-profile strategy seems insufficient today. We have elements of expertise in the Labour and Conservative friends of Israel and in the all-party parliamentary group on Israel, but it seems to me that an expanded Bicom or CST are the organisations best fitted to support and train the people we need.

The remit would have to extend to Jewish and Israeli issues equally; and the organisations would have to be ready to help individuals to respond to immediate events as well, providing the invaluable long-term research that they already undertake.

Baroness Deech is a cross-bench peer and former BBC governor

Check out our previous ideas:

7 - Share our synagogues and community centres with other religions

6 - Establish a Succah in Trafalgar Square

5 - Create a 'community service' programme for young Jews

4 - Recruit older people to volunteer for the community

3 - Establish a fund for the Jewish arts

2 - Pay membership fees to your community, not your shul

1 - Make 2010/11 the year of synagogue renewal

November 24, 2016 22:54

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