Shul bans fail to derail Israeli academic's tour


The Zionist Federation claims a tour by Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar was a success, despite a further cancellation by one synagogue this week.

Dr Kedar was due to speak at three schools but they were pulled by the ZF after the Board of Deputies voiced concerns over his links to Pamela Geller, the anti-Islamist American activist banned from the UK last year. His appearance on Tuesday at Finchley's Kinloss Synagogue was also cancelled.

ZF chairman Paul Charney said: "Despite a concerted campaign against Dr Kedar, his speaking tour has been largely successful. Like all attempts to ban or boycott something, this campaign has had the opposite effect."

More than 600 heard him in several venues, Mr Charney said, with many "surprise at how moderate he is".

The move by Finchley, one of the largest United Synagogues, followed the decision by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation in Maida Vale not to host Dr Kedar, taken before his UK arrival.

Finchley rabbi, Jeremy Lawrence, said: "Without derogating from his expertise as a commentator, Kinloss considered and followed counsel on the perception of hosting the speaker, who was publicly aligned with comments and views which did not reflect the relationships and work undertaken by our past and present leadership."

Dr Kedar, who lectures at Bar Ilan University, addressed synagogues in Borehamwood, Brighton and Hendon's Ner Israel, the ZF advocacy conference and Christian groups, as well as appearing on BBC Arabic TV and Sky News. He said the exposure had meant that "other people invited me to speak in alternative events organised by the ZF".

He said the audience of 100 in Brighton in Monday had been more than twice expectations. "They sat nailed to the chairs and listened to a two-hour scholarly lecture about the chaos in the Middle East, its causes and prospects, a lecture which connected the dots for many in the audience," he said.

Mr Charney revealed this week that schools due to host him had raised concerns about a potential complaint to Ofsted if Dr Kedar were to appear.

The Board of Deputies, "then voiced concerns particularly over the schools. We understood their concerns".

The ZF, however, had not agreed to the synagogue cancellations. "They simply cancelled on us," he said.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive