Arkush sorry over timing of Trump message


Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies, has admitted that his message of congratulations to Donald Trump hours after the United States presidential election was badly timed.

But Mr Arkush rejected criticism from some communal figures who said his actions were "beneath contempt", warning them to "watch your language".

Addressing Sunday's Board plenary meeting, Mr Arkush acknowledged that his statement, "could have been better timed". He said: "I will hold up my hand. If I got it a little wrong, I'm sorry."

But he insisted he would not apologise for congratulating Mr Trump, noting that the victorious Republican candidate had been congratulated by most American Jewish groups. Such a message, "was a matter of courtesy, whether you like it or not", Mr Arkush said.

He added that his statement had contained "a strong note of reproof" for comments made by Mr Trump during his campaign.

Mr Arkush's message had sparked a wave of criticism on social media.

A letter signed by more than 190 young British Jews said it was "beneath contempt to congratulate a candidate who was censured by the ADL for using antisemitic tropes, who has enabled mainstream antisemitic abuse and who has secured the endorsement of the KKK and other white supremacists."

Mr Arkush told deputies he believed the language in the letter was excessive.

He said: "If you want to question my judgment, that's OK. But don't you think it's a little over the top to say what I did was beneath contempt?"

He noted that his critics had not attacked Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Israeli Labour Party, over his message of support to Mr Trump.

Mr Arkush told his critics: "Please in future watch your language, have a sense of balance and at least be consistent".

Mr Arkush reported to deputies that Board leaders had met Professor Michael Arthur, the provost of University College London, to discuss the violent scenes involving Palestinian activists at a pro-Israel campus meeting last month. UCL's report into the incident will be released by the end of December.

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