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Board urged to stop work with boycotters

    Tal Ofer
    Tal Ofer

    The Board of Deputies is to be asked to approve a new policy banning partnerships with organisations which support boycotts of Israel or refuse to recognise it as a Jewish state.

    A group of deputies plan to table a resolution proposing the ban at the next meeting in July.

    The motion would commit the Board to avoiding projects with any organisation which has "expressed antisemitism or opposition to the right of the state of Israel to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people, or which has advocated boycotts of Israel, Israeli citizens or Israeli organisations or Israeli products".

    But it would not stop Board representatives holding meetings with such organisations aimed at"reversing these positions".

    The resolution has been drafted by Tal Ofer, a member of the Board's executive, and Gary Mond, a deputy for the JNF.

    Mr Ofer said: "We want to have red lines in place when the Board deals with different organisations and ensure that we don't jump into bed with some strange bedfellows".

    The background, he said, was the controversy unleashed three years ago by the Board's collaboration with Oxfam on an anti-poverty project. Some deputies objected to the partnership because of Oxfam's stance towards Israel.

    The motion requires the endorsement of 20 deputies to be put on the meeting's agenda. Mr Ofer said: "We have canvassed quite a lot of deputies and we shouldn't have a problem in getting the signatories."

    He expected the Board's leadership to support the resolution, he said.

    A Board spokesman said a discussion about a "possible motion" had taken place at a meeting of its defence division, "but was not concluded, so no motion has yet been tabled and nothing is scheduled for a full Board meeting.

    "The Board is exactly the place to debate the important issues of the day."

    According to Oxfam's website, the charity does not support boycotts against Israel as such, but "opposes trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank because they are illegally built on occupied land, increase poverty among Palestinians, and threaten the chances of a two-state solution".

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