Calls for JNF UK chair Samuel Hayek to quit over 'Islamophobic comments'

Communal groups also advising organisations to have nothing to do with JNF UK until Mr Hayek stands down


**FILE** Businessman Samuel Hayek poses for a picture during an event in Tel Aviv on December 3, 2015. Photo by Flash90 *** Local Caption *** àéù òñ÷éí ÷÷"ì ùîåàì çéé÷ çééà÷ ôåøèøè

More than 40 members of the Board of Deputies have called for the resignation of JNF UK chairman Samuel Hayek following comments in the media that rising Muslim immigration threatened the future of British Jews.

Representatives of Reform, Liberal, United and Masorti communities, plus the Union of Jewish Students, also said they would advise their organisations to have nothing to do with the charity until Mr Hayek relinquishes office.

In an open letter to the JNF’s trustees, the signatories said Mr Hayek’s “bigoted remarks have no place in our community.

“If we have come to expect zero tolerance of antisemitism, we must show zero tolerance of racism and islamophobia.”

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post last month, Mr Hayek declared that “Jews have no future in England”.

He added that he was “not against any minority or against the Muslims in the UK or Europe, but against anyone who spreads hatred that harms Jews”.

Questioned about his comments, he told Jewish News: “The evidence is the number of immigrants to England. The demographic of British society is changing.”

Asked by the newspaper if he was referring to issues around Muslims, he replied: “You are not wrong,” adding: “Our problem in the West is that we do not understand Islam. In Islam there is not a term for ‘peace’.”

His remarks brought strong condemnation from Board of the Deputies president Marie van der Zyl and outgoing Jewish Leadership Council chairman Jonathan Goldstein.

The letter to JNF UK, whose signatories include UJS president-elect Joel Rosen, said that condemnation was not enough. “Samuel Hayek must resign, and his islamophobic comments must be condemned explicitly by you as his fellow trustees.

“Until such a time that this happens, we will advise our synagogues and organisations to withdraw cooperation with JNF UK and the programmes that it funds and supports.

“We will also advise the members of our synagogues to ensure that their children do not take part in programmes run or funded by JNF UK.”

Mr Rosen and another signatory, Robert Stone of Finchley Reform Synagogue, are additionally submitting a motion to the Board calling on it to remove JNF UK’s membership until Mr Hayek goes and JNF UK disavows his remarks.

A spokesman for JNF UK said this week," For 120 years, JNF UK has been building Israel and helping its poorest citizens to become part of its success story.

"The charity does not take a stance on British domestic policies and in expressing his recent views Mr Hayek did not speak for the charity or its trustees, as has already been made clear."

The charity explained that trustees would not be making further s;tatements pending the outcome of a complaint to the Charity Commission.

Last week Gary Mond, JNF UK treasurer and senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies, distanced himself from Mr Hayek's remarks, telling the Jewish News that "nothing in the article is JNF policy".

He reiterated his belief that British Jews had "a great future in the UK" and supported the Board's work "with Muslim communities throughout the country, with whom we have many joint objectives".

He told JN he also "endorsed the Board’s important work in supporting those who have migrated to the UK – who like my own father came to this country for a better life – and who are an integral part of what makes Britain such a great place to live.

”I think it is clear that my views on this subject differ profoundly with those expressed in the article."

Mr Mond told the JC this week he did not wish to add to his previous statement.

The motion to the Board on the JNF would be debated first by its community and education division, which is chaired by Mr Mond, who is the JNF's deputy. The Board said he would step aside from any discussion or vote there.

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