Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum

Who Speaks on Behalf of British Jewry?

Posted by Admin on February 8, 2007

The question of “Who speaks on behalf of British Jewry” came to the fore this week when a group of prominent British Jews declared their independence from the Jewish establishment.

The group, Independent Jewish Voices, published an open letter in the Guardian, which raised questions about the legitimacy and authority of those organisations which claim to represent the interests of the Jewish Community:

We are a group of Jews in Britain from diverse backgrounds, occupations and affiliations who have in common a strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights. We come together in the belief that the broad spectrum of opinion among the Jewish population of this country is not reflected by those institutions which claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole. We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty.

In an accompanying article, one of the group’s founders, Dr Brian Klug, set out the case for a more open debate within the Jewish Community:

If there is one thing on which Jews can agree, it is this: it’s good to argue. Jewish culture has thrived on argument – frank, sincere disagreement – ever since Moses disputed with God. But today an oppressive and unhealthy atmosphere is leading many Jews to feel uncertain about speaking out on Israel and Zionism. People are anxious about contravening an unwritten law on what you can and cannot discuss, may or may not assert . . . We are not setting ourselves up as an alternative to the Board of Deputies or any other body. But we challenge the standard concept of “the Jewish community” as a collective entity for which the board is the secular voice and the chief rabbi the religious voice. This system was developed in another era – though it is being used today as a template for other minorities. It pictures “the Jewish community” as a single bloc that, whatever its internal complexity, presents a common face to the outside world via its ambassadors.

We welcome your comments on this issue. (Please note that the discussion forum on Jewish education has now been closed).

101 Responses to “Who Speaks on Behalf of British Jewry?”

  1. Interested said

    This is a very important issue for the British Jewish community and indeed our own community in Glasgow and “Independent Jewish Voices” have reflected widespread concerns by some in the Jewish community that bodies like the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbi do not speak for all the Jewish Community. For many years in Glasgow the Representative Council have tried to close down debate about subjects regarding Israel that they do not wish to discuss and UJIA have never tried to reflect in their work that there might be differing viewpoints about how best to support Israel.

  2. npn said

    Brian Klug and his gang may well be right in what they say-BUT were they right to go to the press without engaging the Jewish Community first on this matter ? I don’t think they were.

  3. Oy Gevald said

    Is this debate not similar to the one on the now defunct education forum viz a viz our very own Rep Council.

    The Board of Deputies is the “voice of British Jewry” as seen by the non Jewish public just as The Glasgow Rep Council is the “voice of Glasgow Jewry” as seen by the non Jewish public.

    Clearly the problem is along the lines of 1 Jew 2 Opinions 3 Sub Committees and so forth.

  4. A Beitz said

    Have little time for either side here. The BOD has been uncritically pro Israel particularly by having a solidarity meeting during the Lebanon war when there were many diverse views. The IJV are in the main a bunch who contribute nothing to the community and whose Judaism is only expressed in any way when they want to tell us how bad Israel is. Many of the IJV do not accept even the existence of Israel and I find their expressions of being Jewish contradictory. On the one hand the Jews are not a people according to them but simply a religion with no right therefore to a state whilst on the other they consider themselves Jewish when they do not in any way practise or adhere to Jewish beliefs. I would stress this does not apply to all by any means but there are many there who have nothing to do with Judaism and who have no wish to see a State of Israel thrive. This is in contrast with other groups who believe morally and practically the occupation is wrong but do so partly because it is diminishing Israel and preventing it from thriving.

  5. totally bored said

    If the IJV are a group of people “who contribute nothing to the community” then so are the organsiers of GJEF unless they are in charge and getting their names on publicity and in the paper. How many of them really do silent voluntary work that many of theis community do (including the Rep Council) day after day?

  6. Debbie said

    Totally bored what a cynic you are. Surely by organising this series of lectures and opening this blog they are contributing to the community. Even if it is only to encourage debate such as this. I know most of the organisers contribute to a variety of committees both Jewish and non-Jewish and do this silently without expecting thanks or gratitude.

  7. Totally Bored with Totally Bored said

    Bah Humbug to #5 Yawn Yawn Yawn.

  8. DN said

    A Beitz (4) should think more carefully before castigating a group of signatories from diverse backgrounds. If they “contribute nothing to the comunity” how does he explain that some who signed are Rabbis. You then go on to say that they “do not in any way practise or adhere to Jewish beliefs”. Could I suggest that some of the Rabbis on the list would find your comments ridiculous and insulting. Rather than falling into the trap of attacking the messenger maybe A Beitz should tell us what is wrong with their message.

  9. Hershie said

    #3 I’m not clear what you’re trying to say. Would you stop being a smart alec and try simple english

  10. Ben Avraham said

    I have a lot of sympathy with the views of IJV but looking through the signatories understand why their interest in the subject is questioned.
    As far as the BOD are concerned they with a few exceptions are a joke. Furthermore some of the deadwood in that organisation come from Glasgow. They add absolutely nothing to the furtherance of Anglo Jewry but cost a fortune in free return flights to London not to forget the ecological damege they cause in pursuit of their own glorification. Bad enough as that may be, one Johnny-come-Lately to Community affairs not only gets freebies to London, he even gets regular freebies to the US.

  11. Gerry the Joiner said

    #3 was perfectly clear, hershie, perhaps you need to turn the volume up on your bifocals.

  12. Hershie said

    #11 I thought I’d escaped and left you in a parallel universe. Even there you had the habit of butting in and supporting lost causes.

  13. A Beitz said

    #8. My concern is who is presenting the message. I do believe that there is a problem with uncritical support for Israel but I find it quite strange to see signatories on the IJV site whose view of Israel and the concept of the state has been negative for years. Also it may be that the BOD don’t represent them (or many others) but equally their hundred or so signatories represent far fewer. The idea that you cannot be critical of Israel without having to set up a new group is in any event nonsense. There are plenty of critical groups in relation to Israeli policy both here and in Britain and this just seems to me like self publicity by a bunch of mainly disaffected Jews who want to tell the world how liberal they are.

  14. A Beitz said

    Oh and #8 I said “in the main” referring to those who had signed up. Or perhaps you would like to tell me what most of the signatories have done for Jewish life in Britain?

  15. DN said

    What criteriawould you use for doing something positive for Jewish life in Britain? How would you define this? I don’t think IJF are saying that they represent British Jews..They are saying that the Board of Deputies doesn’t represent them. What is so wrong with that? I would not agree with many of the signatories regarding their views on Israel but I don’t think that is the issue. I would not agree with the Board of Deputies or the Chief Rabbi either. For years the establishment in British Jewry has dismissed dissent from those who disagreed with Israeli Government policies as irrelevant and they have always questionned the credentials of those who criticise – and attempted to rubbish them as troublemakers. It’s happening again and you are Mr Beitz are also taking part in this.

  16. Not the mother of a 16 year old said

    Ok so I know this has nothing to do with this blog but I absolutely want to deny that I am now the mother of a 16 year old. Happy birthday Genna whoever you are!!!!

  17. Gerry the Joiner said

    I sense comments from multiple personalities …….

    As with so many other ‘discussions’ this one is essentially futile. These people are entitled to their opinions, are being perfectly reasonable and are Jewish. If you disagree with them then write and object to them or write to the papers but to try and reject their opinions on the basis of their activity level as Jews is spurious.

    I again fail to see the relevance of this and other subjects on the blog to the future of the Glasgow Jewish Community. It seems abundantly clear that the ‘education’ in GJEF’s title is misleading, it should be replaced with ‘political’.

  18. Ben Avraham said

    #17 You are very early in this particular discussion to be so dismissive. Hmmm I sense you’re out of your depth on this one. Yes these people are entitled to their opinions, that is part of our culture, didnt you know. I also think they are being perfectly reasonable but that is up for discussion. Others may not and I wish to hear their views and debate with them. Didn’t you notice it was front page news in the Chronicle and the Telegraph so maybe they are also part of a “political” plot.There again, maybe you have your own agenda trying to label it ‘political’ In fact one of the very points they were trying to get across was that those who spoke out were being dismissed by the communal bullies with labelds such as ‘political’ Who speaks on our behalf and our relationship with Israel is very much a part of our future so a bit of advice “grow up”.

  19. A Beitz said

    #15. Taking part in and contributing to Jewish religious, welfare and cultural activities. What parts do Harold Pinter, Jacqueline Rose or Stephen Fry play? Have any of them ever (at least in the past 10 years) backed Israel against the stream of invective, some of which I accept is well deserved. How many other countries have they criticised other than the US? Why can’t they in any event join up with say Jews For Justice For Palestinians or, if they genuinely accept there should be a state of Israel, Peace Now. Why another group? What is there to make me think this isn’t simply an ego trip by a bunch of disaffected people who are nominally Jewish with some misguided souls such as the Klugs joining them?

  20. past parent said

    Gerry the Joiner – where does ‘political’ end and ‘educational’ start? they are completely intertwined. Any decisions and plans for our community will be political, at least with a ‘p’ if not also a ‘P’

  21. Gerry the Joiner said

    Ah I see that this blog again stoops to petty insults with ‘advice’ of “grow up” and being “out of your depth”. Perhaps you are right, I was obviously too naive to think that you might have been able to argue your point. You seem not to want to hear MY view or discuss anything with me as my world view is different from yours.

    Well, I’ll leave you and your buddies to ‘discuss’ freely on this blog which has all too quickly become pointless, directionless, petty and pathetic. It took a little time but it is clear that you have as little wish to discuss the future of our community as any other group of has-beens (or is that never-weres)as the only part of GJEF’s advertised programme that was relevant to the title has now had it’s forum closed. I take it you have lost interest and now wish to come out of the closet.

    There is a huge difference between ‘educational’ and ‘political’ and I can direct you to any number of dictionaries that will enlighten you. It may give you something to fill the time as you wait for someone who is NOT part of the GJEF ‘team’ to post.

    I may be at your future meetings, then again Top Gear is back on telly on Sunday nights.

  22. Curious said

    It would appear that Gerry the Joiner has thrown his tools out of his pram. All these insults and accusations without foundation. It seems to me that the only topic you think is of value is the one you wish to discuss – anything else is irrelevant. Very sad indeed.

  23. Ben Avraham said

    The more I have had time to reflect on the IJV platform the more disturbed I become. Many of the signatories have had little if anything to do with mainstream Jewry or Jewish affairs and I would suggest that they have never attempted to articulate their disquiet within the community. As such they have not been silenced by anyone. That does not mean to say that the Community is necessarily open to all shades of opinion just that the signatories are being somewhet disingenuous. When one notes the names from the world of media and their suggestion of difficulty having their views promulgated, one realises that this is arrant nonsense, it is they above all others who have the ability to be noticed and have their views publicised. They call themselves ‘Independent’, independent of what? On what were they dependent before they became independent? Or are they saying we’re special, we’re different?
    I would further maintain that they do a disservice to the cause of trying to moderate community attitudes to Israel. Many mainstream Jews have attempted and are attempting just this, but on seeing who is involved in IJV and their (mostly) complete disdain for the community and its welfare,they in turn may lessen their activities for fear of association with groups such as IJV

  24. DN said

    Ben Avraham falls into the trap of attacking the messenger. To claim that most of the signatories to IJV have “complete disdain for the Jewish community and its welfare” is a ridiculous allegation. Please tell us what is the basis for this unwarranted attack. Mainstream Jews have failed to moderate the official position of the British Community towards Israel. Please let us know which policies of the Israeli Government have been criticised in the last 25 years by the establishment – either here in Glasgow or by the Board of Deputies in London. The official position is still ” my country right or wrong” and that is why some people have now said they don’t go along with this. No spokesperson from the Board of Deputies or the Chief Rabbi as far as I am aware has ever commented as follows – ” Many Jewish people think that Israel is right but naturally there are some who disagree and that is a legitimate position to hold as well. Instead what is offered is a position that gives the impression that the entire Jewish community supports what is going on, whatever it is. This is not only misleading but it is also completely untrue. I also find it worrying that you seem to think some Jews are better than others because they happen to be part of the mainstream. Because some of the signatories do not feel comfortable with the majority or prevailing viewpoint does not negate their right to call themselves Jewish – if they want to – and if they are Jewish. If we follow your line of argument we will return to debating ” who is a Jew”. Are you really suggesting that some Jews are better than others?

  25. Disinterested said

    Who speaks on behalf of GJEF? Why do they feel the need to promote all the IVF claptrap. Do they want to promote harmony or conflict in our community? It seems the e just disappeared from the GJeF…. and the true colours of a bunch of frustrated left wing hacks is being exposed. Gerry the Joiner is right. Don’t know why he ends up getting all the subsequent personal attacks. Suspect it is the ringleaders of GJEF who are trying to silence him as they look to set their own political agenda. Bring back Peace Now – at least the objectives of that group was transparent.

  26. Ben Avraham said

    I suggest that DN go back and read my posting with more care. I said, “that does not necessarily mean that the community is open to all shades of opinion…”. thereby leaving my position open to deal with the BoD and Chief Rabbi later. . As it happens I agree in full with DN’s criticism of these two institutions both of which have failed to serve the needs of their constituents rather than Israel. At no time did I attempt to negate anybody’s right to call themselves Jewish nor said anything that could give that impression. To further extrapolate from my words a call to debate who is a Jew has taken several large leaps of imagination leading to an absurd conclusion.

  27. interested said

    Suggest Gerry the joiner’s mate learns the difference between “IVF” and “IJF” before we consider their comments seriously.

  28. A Beitz said

    Quite surprised at the attack on GJEF for raising this topic. Surely it is to do with communal leadership. As far as I know none of the 5 organisers of GJEF are in any way allied to IJV although I am aware one was asked and refused. This is a discussion site and again to label GJEF as left wing hacks might be regarded as complimentary by some but I think it is inaccurate. FWITW the fact the Newsnight broadcast is posted here is an indication of objectivity. IMO Melanie Phillips, whose views I don’t generally agree with, took David Goldberg apart.
    Oh, and DN,rather than asking Ben Avraham to prove a negative, tell us what people such as Harold Pinter and Stephen Fry do for the community and in particular any of its social, welfare and religious institutions. In fact build a communal cv for say 20% of those signed up. They don’t need to parrot the Israeli government to take part in community life.

  29. Confused said

    #25 Not sure IVF and claptrap should be in the same sentence. However IJV makes some sense in the sentence.

    Oh and why are on you on a crusade against GJEF. The fact they are trying to bring interesting speakers to our fair city who, perish the thought, some you might not actually agree with should challenge you (and all your other pseudonyms) to go to the talks and ask some serious questions of the speakers.Who knows might even bring in some speakers you might like to listen to because I dont know who they have lined up in the next sereies – do you?

  30. More confused said

    I don’t even know who the GJEF is…. are they elected or self appointed? Do they have a manifesto? Apart from the topic relating to Calderwood which is clearly related to our community, can you really tell me that this organisation is not political in nature. We have one rep council that is elected today and another CJE. Why do we need another organisation faceless bunch looking for self promotion

  31. Hershie said

    #30 You really are confused. On the one hand you say you dont know who GJEF is, yet later you accuse them of self promotion. Try and get your thoughts together then you might be worth answering.

  32. more confused said

    My point exactly Hershie… between you and your cohorts you spend more time attacking individuals than answering the point raised…… would be good if you could just explain a little bit more why you protest so much about points contrary to your own

  33. Confused said

    Dear Mr More Confused

    When exactly have GJEF self-promoted themselves. What is wrong with organising speakers. What point exactly are you making except self promoting your own views. I for one would like to debate community issues, the fact you see IJV as not a local community issue is your view, others may see it differently. Instead of this tit for tat between you and GJEF which appears to be “just for the sake of it” how about actually debating the issues and not whether you think GJEF is political or not.

    Oh and by the way I dont even know who the 5 people Mr A Beitx says are on the group so so much for self promotion!

  34. Martin Buber said

    It would appear that A Beitz and Ben Avraham have arrogated to themselves the right to determine who is a good Jew.

  35. Hershie said

    #32 I didn’t need to answer the point raised, you answered it yourself. Unfortunately you were to confused to realise it. As you noted en passant, the first meeting was the presentation with Jim Duffy which despite yourself,you know was a good meeting welcomed by the Community. So Mr Confused what happened to your elected Rep Council, what happened to your elected CJE? Where were they for the past year when this essential meeting could and should have been organised? Where were you? That is why GJEF is needed (an organisation of which I have no part). That is why anyone with a modicum of common sense will wait and see what is coming before being so quick to condemn.

  36. Ben Avraham said

    #34 Thats rather glib. Give us your train of thought that comes to such a weird conclusion.

  37. Martin Buber said

    Ben Avraham: I find your response somewhat disingenuous.

    Insofar as I understand your indictment of IJV, you question the sincerity of their appeal to speak as Jews on the grounds that many of the signatories “had little if anything to do with mainstream Jewry or Jewish affairs”, thereby implying that their expression of Jewish identity is inauthentic.

    It appears that you have become the Grand Inquisitor of Judaism who sits in judgment of the heretics.

  38. Ben Avraham said

    #37 Disingenuous? To question how you come to your conclusion is disingenuous? Hardly. Why do you flinch at being asked to support your allegations? Why are you so sensitive? Nowhere do I call into question the authenticity of the signatories’ Jewish identity nor give you the right to come to that conclusion. As for you last sentence it is gratuitous.
    I do ask questions which you sidestep so niftly. As,for the most part,they have never attempted in any way whatsover to air their disquiet at the object of their scorn, how on earth can they claim to have been silenced (here I mean the signatories, not others who have taken the flak that they in their protected position have avoided). Of what are they independent? What exactly was there dependence before declaring UDI. When they put forward their human principles,amazing revelations of principles in which we all believe, what happened to academic freedom, why did it get missed out or maybe it was one of Pinter’s famous silences where we’re all meant to know what he’s trying to say. How very convenient. Dont Israeli academics have the same rights as the exalted academics among the signatories? Explain how you go about silencing a group that is as articulate and well connected with the media as any within Anglo-Jewry.

  39. A Beitz said

    #34 Where did I determine who is a good Jew? I merely find it somewhat strange or even perverse for a bunch of people who in the main have contributed nothing to the various diverse aspects of the UK Jewish community to be telling us that they are the authentic voice. I agree with some of what they say but consider they have little more right to determine policy than a Tory voter would have to write the SSP manifesto.

  40. past parent said

    I see no evidence that gjef have, or have ever claimed, to speak for anyone. My understanding is that the people involved are acquaintances, who chatted at various times about various things to do with the future of the Glasgow community – as people do – but rather than moan they decided to pool their talents, arrange some meetings, invite some interesting speakers, set up this website & Blog and see where it led – nothing more, nothing less.

    Hats off to them – they’ve achieved more constructive discussion (even if there’s been some negative stuff along the way) than anyone else. When the talking’s done its then up to everyone out there, singularly and collectively, to see what might be possible to preserve and enhance our Community.

  41. Martin Buber said

    Ben Avraham: I apologise if I offended you – that was clearly not my intention. Having said that, I do not in any way resile from my criticism of your comments.

    Why are you obsessed with impugning the integrity of the signatories to the IJV declaration?

    At not point have they ever claimed to be the authentic voice of British Jewry; rather, they are an alternative voice for those who have been marginalised by the mainstream community. I would have thought that you, of all people, would understand that. Evidently, I was wrong.

    I would not presume to speak on behalf of IJV, but the answers to your questions can be found in Brian Klug’s article. Perhaps you should read it.

  42. Ben Avraham said

    Martin Buber. I have never suggested they claimed to be the authentic voice, it was in fact yourself that that implied such a claim when you used the word “inauthentic” in #37. If I wished to debate with Brian Klug I would post on their site, meantime I’m asking you.
    You never offended me, this is part of blogging. Having said that, I truly think that so far your arguments are a lot of nonsense.

  43. Martin Buber said

    Ben Avraham: My dear fellow, had you read comment #37 more carefully you would have realised that my allusion to authenticity was used in the context of a debate about the meaning of Jewish identity.

    Quite frankly, if you think that, thus far, my arguments are “a lot of nonsense”, why do you insist on challenging me to a debate?

  44. Ben Avraham said

    #43 I dont challenge you to anything. I just want to know what you think, not what you’ve read in someone else’s column.

  45. Ben Avraham said

    I’m off to bed. Perhaps others will enter the fray. I will return after work tomorrow.

  46. Ben Avraham said

    So, Martin Buber, IJV is an alternative voice. I trust you have chosen your words carefully and realise that means there are only two, them and us. Well there are not, there are many voices and I would suggest that IJV are a danger to all those existing voices of marginalised groups. I do not impugn the integrity of the signatories but I certainly impugn the integrity of their arguments. As A Beitz has already posted, Melanie Phillips completely destoyed David Goldberg on Newsnight. She destroyed him for three reasons, she was excellent, he was aweful and thirdly there was no substance or integrity to his arguments. If in fact you really see but two positions, then anyone listening to the arguments would have only one place to go. As I find Melanie’s position vis a vis Israel uncompromising and lacking compassion I maintain that IJV have been destructive. Were I to feel marginalised I would ask why stand shoulder to shoulder with IJV, how will they help me feel less marginalised, how will they get the message to the Community at large? Well let me tell you Mr Buber, they wont.They wern’t talking to the community at large But then, I dont think that was their intention.
    They were the great and the good talking to a non Jewish audience.

  47. Gerry the Joiner said

    I’ve re-read the IJV declaration and it is totally reasonable and normal albeit with a significant Left Wing political bias some of which I am uncomfortable with. They have not laid claim to speak for all Jews but to be able to speak for themselves without being branded traitors. The right of Jews to free speech is not limited by activity level, identity or anything else as everyone will agree, so what is the fuss about.

    The sum total of the argument between Ben Avraham, Martin Buber and others is “I can obfuscate better than you, ner ner naner ner”. Roll on Sunday when the next non-debate can start.

  48. Ben Avraham said

    As we said before, you’re out of your depth, sonny.

  49. Gerry the Joiner said

    Again, a wonderfully formulated response from Mr Avraham. I am humbled by your power over the English language and I await your next bon mots with baited breath.

  50. A Beitz said

    Gerry #48. The declaration is ok if a bit nebulous. It is in fact a bit misleading since a number of those involved do not accept Israel’s existence snd the idea of both sides living in peace for them is in a Palestinian state. However the suggestion these people have had no voice is nonsense. I didn’t need Harold Pinter et al to form this group for me to know what their views were. They have a perfect right to speak but their persuasiveness might be greater were they to have any record of assisting within the Jewish community. As Ben Avraham says this is all for the non Jewish community to tell them how liberal and leftie they are.

  51. npn said

    I must say I am more than a little irked by some of the above-as one of the GJEF PEOPLE I can assure you that we speak for no-one -we only wanted some good debate ; our views are diverse-personally (although it is of no relevance except to demonstrate no particular left wing bias)I have no time for IJV and I was delighted that Melanie Philips gave them what for on Newsnight-she destroyed the IJV spokesperson who came across very poorly-happy to critcise but nothing constructive to say at all.
    There are plenty of evening talks in the pipeline-hopefully the cynics will see from those who will speak that the only common thread will be the resultant debate-rather than different speakers appearing to share the same political agenda.
    Here is a challenge to Gerry and his gang of doubters-re. the evening with Monique Siddiqui (spelling?)as I am chairing , let me in advance have one or two articulate probing questions ,ones which you want to ask her re. the subject matter of the night-and I will do my best to raise them on the night-that way you get a chance to have your say-and no-one can accuse the GJEF of driving the agenda ; I’ll warn you though -don’t waste my time -make it relevant ,avoid offence and please put your real name to it .

  52. Gerry the Joiner said

    You may be irked, and I hope the reason is the lack of proper debate despite GFEF’s good intentions. Due to a lack of moderating and a number of perceived attacks on indiviuals who made their identities known, the large number of people watching ahve decided not to enter the debate adn the blog is far poorer for it. I cite the example of Ben Avraham declining to even start to discuss teh issue with me as he clearly feel that I am not worthy of his time. A Beitz is an example to the others who’ve populated the blog and by their high-handed attitude have discouraged ANY real debate.

    A suggestion NPN, have the courtesy to get your guests name correct before you blog as it creates a very poor impression and give us a method of transmitting our questions to you for possible inclusion.

    Again I must reiterate: I applaud GJEF’s efforts in creating this series of talks and creating this blog, however the result so far is to disincentivise the overwhelming majority from participating by allowing small minded, arrogant cyber-bullies to run roughshod over the discussions. Disagree, yes. Argue, please. But also have a little respect for others’ opinions if you wish yours to be respected. The peer group of GJEF’s organisers has just that little bit less respect for you as a result of the blog and it should have been the reverse.

    I would highly recommend that the Webmaster applies some gentle Moderation to lead the blog lest it stay as a little Boys Club for esoteric point scoring rather than constructive and informative debate.

    I hope this is not a cue for Curious, Interested, Not interested, Pathetic of Newton Mearns et al to get personal. Try a little informed debate people, A Beitz, NLL and Ricky have shown the way, please follow and maybe my cynicism will be unfounded.

  53. Confused said

    Well said Gerry and NPN. I for one want to see good old fashioned debate with each side giving of their best in a constructive rather than destructive manner.

    I look forward to hearing what Jim Murphy has to say on Sunday at 8pm in NM Shul as I was intrigued by his comments today about foreign workers and their grasp of the English language.

    What do the rest of you bloggers in cyberspace think he will tell us on Sunday re Tony’s (aka George’s)policies on the Middle East Peace Process?

  54. Ben Avraham said

    #52 “ner ner naner ner” Roll on Sunday when the next non-debate can start.

    That’s the nonsense with which I refuse to debate

    ” Argue, please. But also have a little respect for others’ opinions if you wish yours to be respected”.

    Can this possibly have come out of the same mouth on the same evening

  55. Gerry the Joiner said

    Ben Avraham

    My reply was on exactly the same level as the arrogant cyber-bully who’s only resort was to disrespect a fellow blogger by comments like “you’re out of your depth, sonny”. You can dish it out it seems but get peeved when it is returned in kind. My ‘proper’ post was directed at those for whom I respect whether or not I agree with them, it was most definitely not directed at those, like you, who have no respect for others’ opinions.

    Perhaps I should explain myself to those who watch but are not inclined to post. I am regarded as a prolific poster on many other blogs and forums where the norm is to listen to those with alternative views and respond in kind. Not everyone has the language or typing skills to play the silly games that have been exhibited here (and in this I am also guilty) and very often it is those very people who have the most to offer a discussion. I learnt, as a student, that when I debate in public that I am playing to the gallery as I am unlikely to convince those with whom I debate. I have debated with racists & bigots, the well informed and ignorant and, on this blog, the arrogant and insolent, and in [almost] every case have tried to bring my views to bear in a constructive and informative way. ON the other hand you, Ben Avraham, have brought very little. Oh, I’m sure you are very well informed and your education and intelligence are unquestioned, however had you properly engaged me in debate perhaps we both may have learned something and in the process given the watching masses food for thought.

    My first post on this topic was perfectly reasonable but, as usual and in common with your [assumed] buddies, you were rude, obnoxious, dismissive and arrogant and refused to engage in debate. Your loss.

  56. Gerry the Joiner said

    I do hate myself for allowing myself be dragged back in. I promise to only post constructively in the future. {bows, exits stage left}

  57. Shocked said

    Imagine being proud of being on the same side as Melanie Phillips? If I discovered that my opinions were similar to hers I would have a good long think and change my mind immediately.

  58. Gerry the Joiner said

    I have friend with whom I studied in Jerusalem who might regard her as a left winger. He believes that the Palestinians are and I quote “a bunch of whinging, work-shy morons with lunatics for leaders”. His name is Abed, he IS a Palestinian who now lives in Melbourne because he’s “fed up of his family pretending they are victims”.

    sounds a bit harsh but, hey, he should know. It seems that us jews are not the only ones who have to reassert our rights of freedom from having our leaders always speak for us.

  59. stupid but saveable said

    So I am a bit confused by this whole debate. So far I have worked out that Gerry the Joiner and Ben Avraham are not friends. However I am sure that this not the true basis of this debate. Would someone like to explain it to me in simple terms so that I can perhaps join in!!!!!!

  60. Muswellhilldad said

    With regard to #58 I just asked my son who is hopefully going to University in the next few years what he would think if he heard a Palistinian student say, “my Jewish friend said I think Jews are “a bunch of whinging, work-shy morons with lunatics for leaders”. His name is Abe, he IS a Jew who now lives in Melbourne because he’s “fed up of his family pretending they are victims”.

    My son immediately replied “he is a racist scumbag”

  61. Admin said

    Although we have asked everyone to behave responsibly, a comment posted earlier today – Tuesday 13th February – breaches our code of what is acceptable. We have given careful thought as to whether it should be deleted, but we have decided to leave it in place as an example of what is unacceptable. The comment posted could be construed as racially inflammatory and we have sent a warning letter to the person concerned. If this is repeated, we will ensure that the person will be unable to participate in the blog. Once again we ask everyone to behave responsibly.

  62. Gerry the Joiner said

    Stupid but saveable
    I think you do yourself a disservice, Your request “Would someone like to explain it to me in simple terms so that I can perhaps join in!!!!!!” is exactly what I was trying to explain to Ben Avraham but you put if far better than I did.

    If I understand it correctly, IJV are saying that they feel they are being regarded as traitors because their view of the Middle East problem and it’s solutions are not those expressed by the various Official Jewish Bodies. They also complain that the Board of Deputies and others simply toe the Israeli Government’s party line without thinking that they are not representing Anglo-Jewry’s real views. I think they have a point and although I disagree strongly with the implied left wing bias I whole heartedly agree that Palestinian and Israeli alike have the Right to their own Land and to co-exist in peace. The real problem arise when one tries to decide who’s land is who’s and there lies the REAL dispute.

    BTW, I have no idea who Ben Avraham, Curious and Interested might be so I can have no feelings about them personally although I am sure that if this discussion were to held in person there would be more debate and less baiting. It is too easy for comments on a blog like this to be written in haste and fail to be clear and without an edit function …….

    I feel I should point out to anyone reading that in post #58 I have managed to give entirely the wrong idea of the point I was trying to make. Abed was and is a good friend with whom I studied at Mount Scopus. He was in the room next to me in halls along with several South Americans, a Kiwi and several other Arab students. It was an object lesson in diversity and we all learned a lot about each other’s cultures (they learned about Whisky, Billy Connolly and Tartan) and it is a matter of deep regret that I have not been able to spend time with Abed and his parents as I did back then. His comment (and it is a direct word for word quote minus some swear words) to me was made only a few weeks ago and I felt was entirely relevant to this discussion as he was bemoaning the fact that, as a Palestinian, he was denied the right to speak for himself as he would otherwise be treated as a traitor. I was wrong to make a flippant comment and I apologise if anyone has been offended.

  63. A Beitz said

    I think it might be a good thing if Gerry and Ben Avraham and any other pseudonyms the 2 might have ignored each others posts for a week. As has been said by Gerry there’s too much baiting and indeed one could be forgiven for considering the 2 of them to be masters at it.

  64. Gerry the Joiner said

    One of problems with a blog like this is that one is unable to build up a proper idea of who is who. For all I know Ben Avraham could be a close friend who is simply out to wind me up and I am daft enough to take the bait. Alternatively he or she could be someone who genuinely dislikes me assuming they know who I am.

    I have no animosity towards anyone who’s posted here I just feel that in a Community as small and as close as ours that it is not good practice to simply badger and bait each other as it does nothing to engage everyone in real debate. Unfortunately, those who are in the habit of voicing our opinions publicly also happen to be those to like to argue for the sake of it.

    I’ve re-read the main objections (made above) and still do not understand why anyone can object to the IJV signatories speaking out as Jews purely on the grounds that they are not active in the Jewish Community. It seems to be the only objection expressed, am I missing something (apart from the obvious)?

  65. stupid but saveable said

    In some ways Gerry is not wrong, there are plenty of people in this community who appear to do little or nothing within or for the community but are they considered less Jewish?

    I know some very active community members who attend the reform synagogue, are they therefore more Jewish because they work for or on behalf of the community?

  66. mrs gerry the joiner said

    Happy valentines day gerry dear!This is a wonderful way of speaking to you as you are usually on the computer blogging about something. In my humble opinion all the middle easts problems could be solved by eating more chocolate. This could be a hint!

  67. Oy Gevald said

    Is Valentines Day Jewish enough to be debated?
    Can we ask the BOD and IJV so as I can be sure!

    Happy Valentines Day Darling. You know who you are…I Think!!!!

  68. Gerry the Joiner said

    I can’t remember the details but after Entebbe one Jewish philosopher said that being Jewish was primarily a matter of identifying yourself publicly as such and taking the good and bad that goes along with being identified as Jewish. On that basis there was a strong case for the flight crew (French, christian) to be considered Jewish as they refused to leave the Jewish passengers to their fate and for those passengers who were Jewish but took the chance to leave as they were not readily identifiable as such to cease to be Jewish.

    In that case IJV signatories, whether halachically Jewish or not, could be considered more Jewish than someone who is Jewish by accident of birth and no more.

    That issue aside, I am very uncomfortable with the undercurrent of anti Israel feeling that goes beyond disagreement with governmental policy in their statement. It is as if they do recognise the reluctance of the Arab World to accept Israel’s right to exist.

  69. A Beitz said

    #68. Gerry my feeling about the the IJV signatories is that they are certainly not of the sort who identify themselves publicly as Jewish, at least until this arose. As for taking the good with the bad their contribution has been entirely negative.If you accept being Jewish as being part of a club, which I think is a fair analogy, then many of them are people who have failed to pay their dues or attend meetings over the years but instead have suddenly turned en mass and made a great deal more noise than their numbers justify.

  70. Gerry the Joiner said

    Falling victim to the lack of edit function ….. Of course the last sentence should read “It is as if they do NOT recognise the reluctance of the Arab World to accept Israel’s right to exist.”

  71. DN said

    Sorry, A Beitz this is not correct. One of the signatories is the past chairperson of New Israel Fund – a charity that has raised much money for deserving causes in Israel. And please don’t tell me she is the only one. There are others who have fought for the kind of Israel that they believe in for many years as well. In a large list one can always find some who you can try and pick off.
    However, these people have the right to speak out and tell the Board of Deputies and Chief Rabbi – when they make statements that claim the Jewish community is totally supportive of Israeli policy – it may be incorrect. One’s record of communal involvement does not come into this at all.

  72. A Beitz said

    Here’s an email from Rabbi Jeremy Rosen which I think is quite relevant to this discussion. He has a mailing list and his views are always interesting.

    This month so many disparate groups and individuals on both sides of the Atlantic have been claiming to speak for Jews or for those Jews who believe their voices are not heard. Indeed there are so many different and disparate Jewish voices. Can anyone speak for the Jews? Simply, the answer is NO! Moses tried to, but look how often he was asked to take a hike. Biblical Prophets never claimed to. Talmudic Rabbis didn’t. Some kings might have, but they didn’t last.

    There are so many conflicting definitions—religious and secular, state and private, that in one way it is easiest to simply say that a Jew is anyone who claims to be one. The only absolutely clear definition is the traditional religious one that a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother or converted out of religious conviction in accordance with ancient procedure. But even this is no longer as absolute as it was in the loosely termed ‘Jewish World.’

    So if we cannot talk about who a Jew is with any degree of unanimity, what of all those people who claim to speak in the name of or as Jews? What the heck gives them any such right? Democracy it certainly isn’t, because there is no framework for all Jews to be registered on an electoral role. Sure there are groups that have their own pseudo-elections which are about as fair as gerrymandering ever was. Usually Jews in the Diaspora are represented by self-appointed spokesmen, sometimes simply wealthy Jews who arrogate to themselves authority simply on the basis of their bank balances. It’s great that they give to Jewish causes, but that no more qualifies them to speak on behalf of Jews than an ATM cash machine.

    We have a plethora of Councils, Federations, Boards, Leagues, Associations and Societies. Many of them do tremendously good social and educational work and I applaud them for that. But not one of them is representative of Jews in any way that I recognize or take seriously, from Right to Left, in Israel or outside. As far as I’m concerned, we’d be far better off without anyone claiming to speak for Jews and then we could use the money wasted productively on Jewish causes that actually help people. One of the reasons why American Jewry has done so well is precisely because everyone and anyone can get up and say what he or she likes or claim to represent God and His Angels and in the end it’s the best man, woman or organization that survives or sinks, wins or loses and everyone knows they only represent themselves and their interests. Darwinian survival of the fittest proves the point.

    As for Israel, I do not see why a corrupt politician, a party political hack or a minister of the Diaspora should speak on behalf of Jews just because enough Israelis vote for his party for entirely different reasons. And I personally do not want someone who has no regard for religion at all speaking on behalf of me, any more than an anti-Zionist, self-hating Jew with a chip on his or her shoulder and a heavy streak of masochism (no matter how intelligently or literarily cloaked).

    The financially dubious World Jewish Congress doesn’t represent world Jews. It represents itself. The Board of Deputies of British Jews does not represent the Jews of Britain, it represents itself. All American Jewish representative organizations are simply self appointed pressure groups. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as no one is fooling anyone or pretending anything else. Lobbying is helpful, even necessary but it is not a license to deceive. Chief Rabbis of whatever country do not represent the Charedi world, or the Reform, or the secular. They may do excellent jobs but they are not representative either. A Hassid will ever accept any representative other than his own Rebbe.

    Then there are those voices on both sides of the Atlantic (and the Mediterranean, too) who love to advertise their dissociation from communal opinion (particularly on Israel) as if there ever was such a thing. Even if they declare they are not speaking for the Jewish community they are in practice setting themselves up as an informal representative body of the disaffected, seeking to express a ‘Jewish Voice.’ So people like Harold Pinter, for example, are so far removed from Jewish life they have no idea how much actual debate goes on in the Jewish community, because they neither practice nor associate nor do anything that might mark them out as Jews in any positive way whatsoever, and who aspire to completely non-Jewish values. Or they are ideological anti-Zionists like Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, or Jacqueline Rose who are often given platforms at Jewish events such as Book Week but are in fact as representative of Jews as David Irving is of historians. Speak out by all means but don’t suddenly and uncharacteristically flaunt your Jewishness as if it defined you or empowered you.

    I wouldn’t mind so much if they were people involved or giving a damn about the Jewish people in some way. There is a huge difference between criticism of Israel or Judaism coming from those who care and are manifestly involved such as Daniel Boyarin, and those who by their very actions show that they are not. Who, anyway, would take them seriously except predisposed antagonists, as the response in ‘The Guardian’ to the “Voices” debate amply shows?

    So why do all these disparate groupings pretend that they speak on behalf of any Jews except themselves? Using ones name and fame to publicize ones own private agenda is nothing more than vanity. If one is doing it for charity the end might justify the means. But to assert something with great fanfare as if it were the general view is simply humbug regardless of where it comes from, the right or the left. Give up boys. You’re not fooling anyone. It’s clear there is no such thing as a ‘Jewish Voice’.

    The only Jews I would ever even think of speaking on my behalf, in theory, are those I know as genuinely spiritual and learned ones of stature. And they, as a matter of interest, never speak in the name of Jews. They may speak in the name of Torah and their communities and some of their acolytes might even claim they speak in the name of the Almighty. But they are wise enough and aware enough of the realities of Jewish life to know better than to try to speak on behalf of Jews in general. If only others would learn. I know I can only speak for myself and I haven’t given permission for anyone to speak on my behalf. Perhaps I don’t count as a Jew!

    Shabbat Shalom


  73. stupid but saveable said

    Well said Rabbi Rosen

  74. DN said

    Jeremy Rosen’s article is thought provoking but I think he has got it wrong regarding IJV. He proclaims, ” they neither practice nor associate, nor do anything that might mark them out as Jews in any positive way whatsoever”. And worse than that – “they also aspire to completely non-Jewish values.”
    I would be interested to know which “values” he is referring to.
    And also, I think the comment attributed to Brian Klug, one of the organisers from IJV, counters Jeremy’s argument effectively.
    It is – “People who are not in the Jewish mainstream we are told have less right to a voice as Jews – as if living on the margins of the Jewish Community makes you a marginal Jew. This idea is as invalid as it is offensive.”
    Finally, Jeremy claims that the only Jews who might be able to represent him are some people “who are spiritual and learned” and “who claim to speak on behalf of the Almighty”. There are institutions full of people who make such claims and I cannot believe he is being serious.

  75. Ben Avraham said

    While I sympathize with much of DN’s philosophy and reasoning I would suggest that the charge that some of the IJV signatories appear to use their Jewish heritage selectively has enough validity to deserve scrutiny. One has to tread very carefully when dealing with this phenomenon because DN and like minded bloggers are only too quick to shout foul, or you’re questioning their Judaism, or you’re calling them self hating Jews or some such populist cry. This syndrome has much in common with the Melanie Phillipsian reaction of “anti-Semite” etc whenever the rubber stamp policy of approval for all Israeli actions is questioned. In fact, the further one stands back and looks at it, the more they appear to be opposite sides of the same coin. I am sure that all the signatories as individuals are good and worthy people who have come together for the best of motives as they see it but as a group who have sought and found national publicity for their stand, they can hardly complain when they are subjected to intense examination.
    As for DN’s final almost blasphemous assertion that there are institutions full of people “who claim to be able to speak on behalf of the almighty” I would again disagree because, alas, most of these people are walking around free and uninstitutionalised.

  76. Gerry the Joiner said

    As with a lot of Columnists, Rabbi Rosen makes heavy use of caveats when referring to those who “might even claim they speak in the name of the Almighty” or “even think of speaking on my behalf”. His article is well put together and thought provoking but is, ultimately for entertainment purposes (or, ever the cynic) for the express purpose of selling the newspapers his article is syndicated to. His final comment has little to do with the meat of his pontification which takes a whole page to say that which a writer of his ability could have said in 3 lines.

    He brings up examples of politicians Charities and a host of others who do not claim to represent anyone apart from themselves as this is support for his argument but then includes those like the BOD, WJC who DO claim to represent Jews despite Rabbi Rosen’s assertions otherwise.

    My friend Ben Avraham says “As for DN’s final almost blasphemous assertion that there are institutions full of people “who claim to be able to speak on behalf of the almighty” I would again disagree because, alas, most of these people are walking around free and uninstitutionalised.”

    I hate to disagree with you, but DN is correct if only because of this Government’s drive towards ‘Care in the Community’. It has been my view for many years that one can look at the behaviour of those enduring religious fervour and closely match claims made by inmates of various secure institutions of “God speaks to me”. Are they by any chance related?

  77. DN said

    Ben Avraham, you try to say that IJV is the other side of the coin from Melanie Phillips. How neat and convenient for you to think that. But you are wrong. What troubles you so much that you continue to battle against people’s right to say count us out when supposed representative bodies speak on behalf of the whole community.? Why do you think your Judaism is better than theirs? The usual trick of any establishment body is to challenge the credentials of any individual or group that challenge their consensus. It is so much easier than actually looking at the argument. But it stifles progress and debate. It would appear you are happier to exist with the superstitious and the dinosaurs in our community who think we all have to think collectively, and show unity to the outside world. I would rather be part of a community that is confident and mature enough to show others that we have diversity in our thinking.

  78. A Beitz said

    So why DN was IJV set up? There are many groups which exist within the community which are critical of Israel’s actions. Peace Now is one but there are plenty of others. I suspect that part of the problem is, apart from the fact many in IJV don’t know who or what exists in the community, groups like Peace Now are supportive of the existence of the Israeli state whilst IJV have many who wish to see it destroyed. The idea that there is no room for dissident groups within the Jewish community seems to be part of IJV’s raison d’etre but it is a false premise. I do not agree with the BOD’s stance on Lebanon or their right to suggest that the whole community is behind the Israeli government but there is plenty of room for groups who share my view as opposed to a group on an ego trip who choose to fund various newspapers through full page adverts.Brian Klug is a decent honest guy but he is merely the acceptable face of the IJV.

  79. Ben Avraham said

    DN, Nothing about this debate is neat and convenient; there are no sharp edges, which is why one treads so warily. I’m not quite sure what you are trying to say. You seem desperately to be attempting to gain some moral high ground but that’s an illusion. You accuse me of rating the signatories’ Judaism. I have no idea nor care one tiny whit about their brand or level of Judaism any more than you should about mine. They could have stood on a humanist platform, they could have stood on a peace platform, they could have stood on a secular platform or any other damn platform they cared to choose. But no, they stood as Jews. It is you who would make their Jewish heritage irrelevant to the argument. It is you who would strip them of their birthright as and when it suits. I’m sorry but that you cannot be allowed to do.
    Of course they are right when they proclaim that the BoD does not speak for them (or me for that matter); and the Chief Rabbi speaks but for himself. IJV have among their number some very fine brains who are well aware of the effect their actions have on Anglo-Jewry. Their decision to act under a Jewish banner brings responsibility to that Community that they would wish to represent in part, and by persuasion as a majority. Perhaps we can discard this escape mechanism and so be freed to deal with the issues.

  80. DN said

    Ben Avraham, you are getting mixed up and forgetting what you have written previously….
    On no 75…you wrote.
    ” I would suggest that the charge that some of the IJV signatures appear to use their Jewish Heritage selectively has enough validity to deserve scrutiny”
    You made their credentials an issue in your previous comments, not me.
    And your friend Beitz did it too but I’ll reply to him later.
    So now you have finally accepted that their credentials do not matter.
    So please tell us what do you disagree with in their statement?

  81. DN said

    A Beitz’s patronising attitude to Brian Klug is quite ridiculous. Why anyone would think this group are on an ego trip given the personal abuse and vilification they have suffered as a result of speaking out is something that you might wish to reconsider. Given that you seem happy to travel alongside those who attack people’s personal credentials rather than the issues they raise is something that you should reflect on as well.
    Why IJV was set up was made perfectly clear in their advert so I don’t understand the question unless you are suggesting that there might be other reasons. Please don’t tell me that there might be sinister sub-plots because I will not believe you.
    Peace Now in England – I believe that Peace Now in Scotland are totally independent from them – chose to support the war in Lebanon until it went wrong and now that they have been praised by Melanie Phillips their voice as a protest movement seems very suspect.
    In Brian Klug’s article in the Guardian on 5th February, he wrote
    “No one has the authority to speak for the Jewish people.” Yet during last summer Ehud Olmert said ” I believe that this is a war fought by all Jews”
    The Board of Deputies and indeed the Representative Council in Glasgow always allow the impression to go unchallenged that the entire community is supportive of Israel’s actions. They organised rallies last summer in “solidarity” with Israel.
    And finally, the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, addressing that rally said, “Israel you make us proud”
    As Brian Klug wrote “certainly there were those who shared the sentiment..but others felt roughly the opposite emotion”
    So I would suggest that these kind of statements are the reason why IJV was set up.
    But like Ben Avraham, please tell us what you disagree with in the IJV statement and stop attacking those who signed it.

  82. A Beitz said

    “1. Human rights are universal and indivisible and should be upheld without exception. This is as applicable in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as it is elsewhere.

    2. Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to peaceful and secure lives.

    3. Peace and stability require the willingness of all parties to the conflict to comply with international law.

    4. There is no justification for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance.

    5. The battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.

    These principles are contradicted when those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people. The Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip face appalling living conditions with desperately little hope for the future. We declare our support for a properly negotiated peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people and oppose any attempt by the Israeli government to impose its own solutions on the Palestinians.

    It is imperative and urgent that independent Jewish voices find a coherent and consistent way of asserting themselves on these and other issues of concern. We hereby reclaim the tradition of Jewish support for universal freedoms, human rights and social justice. The lessons we have learned from our own history compel us to speak out. We therefore commit ourselves to make public our views on a continuing basis and invite other concerned Jews to join and support us. ”

    Read it carefully. What we have is little more than a bunch of mealy mouth assertions which no one could take issue with consisting of human rights are a good thing, there should be peace, racism is bad, criticism of Israel is not automatically anti semitism and the Israelis should not treat the Palestinians badly.
    Then read it carefully. Read no. 2 . Read the penultimate paragraph of the declaration. The wording is interesting. At no time does it accept a state of Israel. There is no refence to a 2 state solution. That is because many of the signatories cannot accept the existence of the Israeli state even alongside a Palestinian one and I am quite sure this wording has been used to avoid having to accept Israel which would have led to the exit of a number of signatories.
    And if you put yourself forward specifically as Jews it is not unreasonable to expect your Jewish credentials to be examined. I’ll deal with other matters late if necessary.

  83. DN said

    I think you should read their statement more carefully. ” We declare our support for a properly negotiated peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people”
    That is what it says. How does that possibly negate the existence of the State of Israel?
    For some reason you are looking for problems that don’t exist.

  84. A Beitz said

    So why not state that they support the existence of 2 states living in peace together? “A negotiated peace” could mean anything including a democratic secular state of Palestine. The reason they don’t specifically espouse the 2 state solution is that it is unacceptable to a number of their signatories. It is deliberately nebulous to be as inclusivist and meaningless as possible.
    Get me a specific statement that they support a 2 state solution and my concern will have been alleviated.

  85. Martin Buber said

    A Beitz: You state that the omission of support for a two-state solution in the IJV declaration was intentional on the grounds that it would not have been acceptable to a number of signatories.
    What is the basis for this charge?

  86. A Beitz said

    Well to name one straight off Tony Greenstein who stated in the Guardian CIF that he did not accept a 2 state solution but instead went for the Democratic Secular State. He says “I favour a democratic secular state in Palestine”. I reckon there are plenty of others and await a response to my query to IJV as to whether they accept a 2 state solution.

  87. Ben Avraham said

    I am sure that Martin Buber chose his pseudonymn with great care knowing full well that the original Martin Buber was an ardent protagonist on behalf of an Arab Jewish bi-national state. If this is indeed the case, then his intervention at this juncture is questionable.

  88. A Beitz said

    Further to my previous emails, as I suspected IJV are not for a 2 state solution. They in fact have no policy on it thus meaning their aims are acceptable to far more people lacking as they do in specifics. In response to my query on this an IJV spokesperson said,

    “I think it is important to point out that we are not an “organization”, really a network of people from a variety of backgrounds who have arrived at an agreement about the basic principles expressed in the Declaration. Our intention was to change the climate, widen the space of discourse. There is absolutely no “policy” on the “existence of the Israeli state”.”

  89. DN said

    How you can deduce that because they have no policy about a 2 state solution that this means they are against it?
    I think you need to work out why you are inventing problems that don’t exist?
    Also why do you refuse to answer the question on whether you think the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbi were right to behave and speak as they did last summer during the Lebanon War?

  90. Martin Buber said

    Ben Avraham: I congratulate you, Sir, on your powers of deduction. You have have unmasked an advocate of binationalism in our midst. I await the warrant of excommunication.
    Joking apart, it would appear that T.S. Eliot was not alone in his belief that “free-thinking Jews [are] undesirable”.

  91. A Beitz said

    Sorry #89. I don’t remember you asking the question although I think I answered it previously re the BOD. However no, I didn’t think they were right but equally can see little point in a group being set up which is too timid to even decide if it accepts Israel’s right to exist. There is plenty of opportunity to criticise without setting up a new group which likes peace and human rights and doesn’t like racism and therefore to that extent almost everyone can agree with.

  92. DN said

    If it is so timid why are you getting so upset about it?

  93. Ben Avraham said

    MB I’m confused – in the real sense – not some pseudonym. Who is free-thinking?

  94. Ollie Onlooker said

    You are certainly not “free thinking”
    Ben Avraham. I have just re read what you and your mate A Beitz have commented on this subject and I cannot understand your objections to people deciding that they disagree with prevailing attitudes and want to make a clear distinction that they are not part of the consensus. In a democracy one still has the right to speak out. It would also appear that you have strange tendancies whereby you want to “out” people for their personal convictions. I thought that this kind of thing died out years ago when the Daily Mail could not find any more communists hiding under beds. What kind of country do you want us to live in when you belittle others’ freedom of speech and thought?

  95. Ben Avraham said

    Ollie Buber, have it your way. If your means of survival is to tell the world how hard it is, how downtrodden and different you are, what a great gift you would be to humanity if only you were understood and appreciated, far be it to me, a humble observer to stand in your way.

  96. Ollie Onlooker said

    Ben Avraham, you have got it wrong, again!
    I am nothing to do with Mr Buber. Please try and explain what you are talking about. What is all this “survival” nonsense?

  97. A Beitz said

    #94 I have no problem with people speaking out. I just object to the suggestion that it is not possible to differ from the cosy consensus by participating in groups that already exist. The new group is in any event scarcely worthwhile when its aims are so wide so that practically no one disagrees. It’s a bit like almost everyone agreeing peace is a good thing. Some see that peace however as incorporating a greater Israel whilst others see it without an Israel. Both sides can claim they want peace. The personal convictions of some of the signatories are important since otherwise people might think this is a group which simply want an Israel and Palestine living side by side in prosperity whereas this is clearly not the view of a number of the signatories.

  98. Ben Avraham said

    Were I more articulate much of this is what I might have said: /Satellite?cid=1170359866864&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    While I would take issue with some of the content, most of it is appropriate.

  99. Babs said

    When all is said and done -in both cases -during the last totally destructive useless Second Intifada and during last years War agaisnt Hizbollah it was the Jewish masses who pushed for rallies and shows of support for Israel –the support for Israel comes from the bottom up –i.e Joe Schmoos in the deli or shul were asking the Communal Leaders in every community to speak up for Israel .
    The Board and others[ Rep Councils etc ] just articulated what the vast majority of Jews here felt .
    What is odd that those Klugs Klowns as they have come to be known -dont like organisations so they set up another one !
    Brian Klug himself went to Hasmonean Grammar School in London [so had some Jewish education for a few years perhaps ] so that may be why he wants a [ IJV ] committee -but most of the others never joined anything Jewish so why do they bother now ?
    Will their non Jewish partners and non jewish children undertsand why they want to join a group and a JEWISH one at that ?

  100. Queen Esther said

    I just wanted to be Blog 100

  101. Tony Greenstein said

    I am in no way speaking on behalf of anyone but myself! Why do IJV not state outright that they support a 2 states position? Well people have different views on what solution is the correct one. I do believe that only a unitary democratic secular state is possible. Would anyone seriously have said that 2 states – one Afrikaaner/White and another Black was the solution in South Africa?

    The problem is that Israel defines itself as a Jewish State. That means privileges for those who are Jewish and discrimination for those who are not. The Bedouin of the Negev, who have been there long before the Zionist settlement, have as Newsnight showed last week, their villages destroyed because they are ‘unrecognised’. They have never been accused of ‘terrorism’ the standard excuse – instead they are accused by Mr Sheetrit, the housing minister, of ‘stealing the land’.

    A simple question. If Jews in Britain had to put up with what Palestinians inside Israel experience would they cry ‘anti-Semitism’. If an English National Fund said that non-Christians could not rent, lease or buy 93% of the land would that be anti-Semitic? This is why, in Israel, the ‘demographic problem’ raises its ugly head – too many Arabs – a threat to the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. When you seek an ethnically pure state, and seek to ‘Judaise’ the Galilee or wherever this is racism. And Jews above all should not practice that which they have experienced for so long. So yes, I am not in favour of a Jewish state, or a Catholic or a White state. I am in favour of a multi-cultural unitary state, not repartitioning of Israel/Palestine. And just in case I’m misquoted – I am in favour of all those who wish to live in Israel/Palestine – Jews, Moslems, atheists etc. being able to do so without discrimination, or ‘transfer’.

    Tony Greenstein

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