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Communal leaders slam anti-Israel comments

    Two Jewish community leaders have hit back at the head of a charity over anti-Israeli remarks he made in a charity magazine interview.

    Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, and Jeremy Newmark, head of the Jewish Leadership Council, wrote to Third Sector warning that "the demonisation of Zionists, Zionism and Israel that is increasingly prevalent in parts of the third-sector/non-governmental organisation community can slip very easily into demonisation of Jews".

    Their letter was in response to an article by War on Want director John Hilary, in which he claimed that complaints to the Charity Commission by two Tory MPs about WoW's political campaigning against Israel were part of "an ongoing strategy by an organised pro-Israel lobby and the Jewish press".

    The complaints were rejected and the Commission's latest guidelines allow charities to campaign about government policy, provided it is not their "sole or continuing activity".

    In the article, Mr Hilary said: "People know they can complain about a charity and the commission is duty bound to investigate... But ill-meaning journalists can portray this as if the Commission is investigating the charity itself."

    In a blog post on the website of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Mr Newmark asks: "It is reasonable to ask whether these anti-Israel campaigns advance War on Want's charitable aims of relieving poverty."

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