The Board of Deputies president “unequivocally condemns” Yachad for backing a UN resolution against Israeli settlements

Mr Arkush said: “I fail to understand how Yachad believes that Resolution 2334 would contribute to the prospects of peace"


The Board of Deputies president said he “unequivocally condemned” Yachad for backing a UN resolution against Israeli settlements. 

In a statement delivered at its monthly meeting, the Board’s president, Jonathan Arkush  said: “I fail to understand how Yachad believes that Resolution 2334 would contribute to the prospects of peace, given that leading progressive voices in Israel including Itzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni roundly condemned it.”

Speaking at the meeting on Sunday he criticised Yachad for “deciding to take their views direct to Government and other public bodies,” instead of going through the Board. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution against Israeli settlements in December, where all but one member of the 15-member council voted in favour and the US abstained.

At the time Jewish groups around the world reacted with varying degrees of disappointment. Speaking about the resolution at the meeting, Mr Arkush said: “The UN has once again chosen to demonstrate its hostility to Israel.”

“The Security Council resolution passed in December is destructive to peace because it encourages Palestinians to believe that they can maintain their refusal to come to the negotiating table.

“I note that the Security Council has been an utter failure in saving hundreds of thousands of lives in Syria.  It clearly thinks of Israel as an easier target.”

Mr Arkush said he was disappointed the UK government failed to exercise its power to “veto a biased and unbalanced resolution”.  He told members at the meeting the UN adopted “disproportionate focus on and stigmatisation of Israel”.

“In recent years the UN passed 233 resolutions critical of Israel and 8 on Syria, moving even outgoing Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon to deplore the body’s bias against Israel,” Mr Arkush said. 

Amos Schonfield, deputy for Yachad, defended the decision to back the resolution and contact government, encouraging support for it. He said: “Yachad reaching out to government is nothing new.  It is worth taking a closer look at the reading of the resolution. 

“It reiterates Israel’s right to exist the right, for its citizens to live free from terror, it condemns incitement, and states the obligation of the Palestinian Authority to dismantle terror infrastructure. 

“It states it will not recognise changes to the green line other than those that are agreed by parties through negotiations.”

Mr Arkush rejected calls from deputies at the meeting, to remove the group from the Board. 

He said: “Those who talk about the Board’s constitution, I do not read the constitution as requiring every deputy to have a particular view or not to have a particular view.  “I am not a support of the views of Yachad. I voted against the membership of Yachad, when others voted for it on the basis of inclusion. 

“But I am not in favour of expelling anyone. I think if someone holds an unpopular view they have the chance to have it heard here on the floor. 

“I am not going to expel them because I don’t agree with them.”

Also discussed at the meeting was the rejection of a bid to open a new Jewish free school, backed by the United Synagogue and the Office of the Chief Rabbi. A bid to set up Kavanah College was rejected alongside another application from Barkai College, by the Department for Education.

Mr Arkush said: “The Board is very concerned and we are working closely with communal colleagues to investigate urgently the rejection of two applications from new Jewish schools to the Department for Education for free school status and the broader issues this raises.”

Other issues raised during Sunday’s meeting were concerns “very few” refugee children had been let into the country, despite the approval of the Alf Dubs amendment in the House of Lords. 

The amendment set the number of children to be allowed into the country from European refugee camps at 3,000.  According to one member “very few children have been admitted under this amendment”.        

Mr Arkush said: “I will be happy to look into the reasons that fewer children have been admitted, if this is the case. If I can do anything to move the position forward, I shall do so.”

Speaking for the first time since she was the subject of an undercover investigation by Al-Jazeera, Jewish Labour activist Ella Rose thanked the community for its support.  Ms Rose, the director of the Jewish Labour Movement, was secretly filmed in tears following an encounter with Jackie Walker, a Labour activist twice suspended over claims of antisemitism.

In the programme it is suggested that Ms Rose’s role in JLM has been compromised by the fact she previously worked for a short period at the Israeli embassy. She said: “It has been personally a tough week for me. But it is right for me to say thank you for the out pouring of love from the community and the Board. 

“We are considering a Ofcom complaint as part of our response going forward.  “And if like me you believe in creating a fair and progressive society that is rid of antisemtism and is a safe space for Jews, join the Jewish Labour movement and join with me in this fight.”

Mr Arkush also paid tribute to the “many members of the community who were included in the New Year Honours List”. He said: “It is wonderful that the work they do for charity and their communities has been recognised in this way.”

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