Jeremy Corbyn to meet Board leaders in 'acid test' talks


Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has announced he will meet Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking at the Board plenary meeting on Sunday, Mr Arkush revealed that he and chief executive Gillian Merron had accepted an invitation for a face-to-face meeting with the Labour Party leader in the second week of February.

Mr Arkush said the meeting would be "an acid test of how relations will be between the Labour Party and the Jewish community. He knows it, and I know it."

Mr Arkush assured deputies that he "will not shrink from raising matters of concern from the community to Jeremy Corbyn.

"And if I have concerns with his answers I will have no hesitation in speaking up for our community."

Promising that he would go in to the meeting "with eyes open," Mr Arkush welcomed suggestions from deputies about what to ask Mr Corbyn.

In September, Mr Arkush said he would seek an urgent meeting with Mr Corbyn if he won the Labour leadership election.

At the time the Board president called on the Islington North MP to publicly reject Hamas and Hizbollah if he was to gain the trust of British Jews.

He said Mr Corbyn’s comments about the terrorist groups were one of the causes of the community’s concerns about the likelihood of him becoming leader.

The planned meeting was not unanimously welcomed by deputies. Martin Jaskel, representing Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, condemned it, accusing Mr Arkush of "sleepwalking like the Jewish community did in the 1930s".

He added:"To have anything to do with people who spread anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda as one of their core issues is a mistake."

Mr Arkush told Mr Jaskel that it was "wrong to make that allegation about the leader of the Labour Party".

Also at the plenary, religious Zionist organisation Mizrachi UK was admitted to the Board with a near-unanimous vote.

● An SNP MP who was forced to apologise for posting an antisemitic tweet has met the Board of Deputies’ public affairs director Phil Rosenberg to discuss the Jewish community’s concerns.

Paul Monaghan used the social media site to accuse the “proud Jewish race” of “persecuting the people of Gaza” in 2012.

He apologised in September after the JC questioned his remarks. A Board spokesman said the men had discussed the MP’s recent visit to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories and had been arranged at his request.

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