November 24, 2016 23:05

I was at last Sunday's plenary meeting of the Board of Deputies and would like to support the comments made by Senior Vice President Jonathan Arkush. Jonathan was democratically elected by the Board (unlike Mick Davis or the J.L.C) three years ago. He is an astute and erudite Barrister who has done an excellent job for the Board and locally in the field of Education. We are fortunate to have him among us. He is the only honorary officer who appears not to be a sycophant of Mr Davis and the J.L.C.

As a backbencher at the Board for the last nine years it is clear that the Board has funding issues and finances are tight. Like every other organisation it must "cut it's coat according to it's cloth". I asked the The Hon Treasurer last Sunday why the Board did not move from its premises at 6 Bloomsbury Square to the suburbs, like many other Jewish communal organisations. This would save money and perhaps improve the balance sheet. I was told by Mr Brass that the building at Bloomsbury Square had just been valued, but he declined to disclose it's value, (which is widely believed to be worth around £3 million). Mr Brass said he did not believe in selling the family silver and proposed an increase in Deputies Representation fees. I therefore deduce from this answer that the Board are happy to continue to be financially supported by Mr Davis and the J.L.C.

The direction and management of the Board's affairs are the responsibility of the President. Vivian Wineman is a charming and pleasant individual, but is widely perceived to be a weak President who has allowed the J.L.C to begin to erode the influence of the Board. Many members have said this and perhaps with the forthcoming elections it may be time to make changes. We do need younger, intelligent members to replace the ageing ranks among us.

Many members of the Board were angered by Mr Davis's critical remarks about the Government and Prime Minister of Israel some sixteen months ago and he came along to a B.O.D meeting last year to explain the work the J.L.C was doing. Many members criticised him, including myself where I could not understand that the leader of the Joint Israel Appeal should be so publically critical of Israel,at a sensitive time when peace negotiations were on the horizon. The outburst was damaging to Anglo Jewry and fed useful propoganda to our enemies. It was clear to us that the J.L.C intended to extend it's influence into areas beyond it's original remit - for example organising meetings with politicians.

However to be fair to Mr Davis and the J.L.C, they have encouraged the development and training of young leaders and have identified a need for more women to take up leadership positions. They have supported several events engaging the interest and involvement of the younger members of the community. This is good work and the Board should take note. Mr Davis is a strong character and an immensely successful businessman.

It seems that there is a growing divide between the Board and the J.L.C. where the unelected latter body appears to believe that money can and will influence the activities Board of Deputies, according to The J.C. Furthermore Mr Davis has threatened to cease funding the Board, because of Mr Arkush's speech last Sunday.

I hope that Mr Arkush and his colleagues will politely tell Mr Davis that democracy rather than money should be the prevailing influence of the leadership of The U.K. Jewish Community

Anthony Spencer
Deputy for Shenley United Synagogue.

November 24, 2016 23:05

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