Board of Deputies criticised after tweet urging Britain to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Yachad director says the body had showed 'little thought about the political consequences' of its message


The Board of Deputies has been accused of ignoring the “political consequences” of publicly commenting on Israel after their latest Twitter message urged the Foreign Office to recognise “the simple truth" that Jerusalem is the country's capital.

In a message on Sunday, the Board’s Twitter account responded to the announcement by Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his country now recognises West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and is starting to search for a suitable site for its embassy there.

The tweet read: “Great to see recognition of the simple truth of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital gaining pace. Thank you Australia!"

Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld responded on Monday, saying she was "surprised" the Board was showing "such little thought about the political consequences". 

"Suggesting this is about a 'simple truth' is the most simplistic statement you could possibly make about Jerusalem,” she wrote.

Leading human rights lawyer Adam Wagner agreed, tweeting the Board's social media output was "all over the place on Israel-Palestine and has been for a while".

He added: "Some of the stuff they tweet (and I don't know who runs the account) is pretty dodgy. They should be much more cautious and measured.”

Daniel Vulkan, a statistician who was previously a researcher for the Board, suggested the Board's tweet was "going beyond your charitable aims" by urging the British government to take a certain course of action.

After responding to the Board’s statement, Ms Weisfeld was subjected to a vicious attack from the Twitter account of the right-wing Jewish group Likud Herut UK.

Backing the Board’s stance over Jerusalem, the tweet falsely accused Ms Weisfeld’s Yachad organisation of being “Iranian funded.”

The Likud Herut account suggested that Yachad supporters were ashamed to be Jewish, tweeting: “They had a name for them in Germany.”

Mr Morrison last week said in a speech to the Sydney Institute: “We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of, and after the final status determination.”

But Mr Morrison said Australia would not move its embassy and instead open a “Trade and Defence Office” in West Jerusalem until a final settlement is reached with the Palestinians.

He said: “The UN Security Council has consistently endorsed a two-state solution, negotiated directly between Israel and the Palestinians, as the way in which ‘final status’ issues are to be resolved.

“These ‘final status’ issues include the status of Jerusalem, the right of return of refugees, the status of Israeli settlements, and the provision of security and the future borders of a Palestinian state.”

He added that Australia had “also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem.”

The Board has been quick to use their official Twitter account to enter the debate on Israel, Palestine and the wider Middle East over recent months.

On December 7, the Board tweeted: "Thank you to the UK and all the 87 countries who voted to condemn the terror group Hamas for its indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel. This was an unprecedented show of unity in the UN against terror.”

Board President Marie van der Zyl has also used her personal account to do the same.

After last week’s horredous death of baby Amiad Israel, who survived a few days after he was delivered prematurely when his mother was injured in the terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, the Board President wrote: "Despicable for this to be praised by Hamas and after the United Nations refused to pass a resolution condemning terror attacks against Israel.”

During an election hustings earlier this year, Mrs van der Zyl said she would not have issued a statement welcoming Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, as her predecessor Jonathan Arkush did.

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