The Board of Deputies
It is clear that for both those that seek a just accomodation in Israel/Palestine, including justice for Palestinians in their own land, and those that serve the Israeli government’s policy of no action but plenty of jaw jaw in order to perpetuate the brutal, illegal occupation, the attitude of Christians and the churches is crucial. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, an extension of the Israeli embassy, regard it as their role to bully and intimidate the churches into a satisfactory position in this respect. The Quakers, the Methodists and the Church of Scotland get the treatment regularly, and all, to a larger or lesser extent, are buckling under the weight of the assault.
On 4th July, 2013, it was announced that Vivian Wineman, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, had been elected as co-chair of The Inter-Faith Network. Wineman made the following statement….
“In our present climate the importance of this work, and of inter faith work generally, cannot be overstated. I am proud that the Jewish community has been at the forefront of developing interfaith relations in society generally, and that the Board of Deputies has led the community consistently in this work… Positive interfaith engagement, apart from being valuable in itself, is vital in creating friends and allies in the general community.”
To the untrained eye, this probably seems like a reasonable enough thing to say. It is, however, carefully worded to appeal to various constituencies within the Jewish community. The Board is on an inexorable and accelerating slide into irrelevance. The question facing it is how substantial will be the crumbs that the Jewish Leadership Council allows the Board to retain, when its takeover is complete. Much of the statement is a contribution to the ongoing pleading of the Board’s case to the community in the face of the forces that threaten to overwhelm it.
The reality is that the more realistic Jewish Leadership Council is getting all the invitations that the Board used to get and bending the important ears that the Board used to bend. Further, there is a jockeying by individuals among the Board illuminati for status and importance in the coming new scheme of things.
More importantly for present purposes, is the tell tale choice of certain words in Wineman’s statement above, that emphasise what we already know about the Board’s current obsession with inter-faith relations. That is…
“ …..apart from being valuable in itself…”
The reality is that any intrinsic value they see in such things is marginal, to put it at its very best.
“ ……is vital in creating friends and allies….”
Aren’t allies something you look for when you are going to war? And when you ally with, is it not axiomatic that you ally AGAINST ?
As we demonstrate over and over again on this site, for the Board, inter-faith relations is not about enriching our lives and the lives of our communities by increasing knowledge, increasing understanding and promoting tolerance among the faith groups, it is a WEAPON.
Understand that for the Board, inter-faith relations is first, last and ALWAYS about The State of Israel. Even when they are talking about something else, it is about Israel. Also understand, that it is a one way street and will always be strictly on their terms. These terms are, that the other faith groups must come to a “correct“ attitude towards Israel.
In other words, while the other groups bring their faith to the table, the Board brings a POLITICAL agenda.
Rid yourself of any naive notion that the Board leadership are a bunch of reasonable, cuddly, moderate proponents of two states for two people, though they are very adept at feigning the role. The Board have specifically rejected the idea of two states. On January 16th 2011 they overwhelmingly rejected a resolution as follows…
” The Board of Deputies of British Jews…supports Israel’s efforts to seek a lasting negotiated peace with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution ensuring Israel’s security and respect for the welfare of all of the people in the region.”
They also reject the idea of one state since it would bring with it an unacceptable number of additional undesirables (Arabs) that the world would require to be accorded civil and political rights. This they declare, would mean the end of a Jewish state and would therefore be anti-Semitic. The unavoidable presumption therefore, is, that they are very much onside with the Israeli strategy of delaying political change for as long as possible and in the meantime “as much land as possible and as few Arabs as possible”.
A strategy of stealing more and more Palestinian land and property “dunam by dunam, tree by tree “, while always, of course, being willing to “talk “.
They love to talk.
Amazingly, the main reasons the above mentioned resolution was rejected was that many deputies declared themselves unable to stomach the idea of ” respect for the well being of all the people of the region”, and that an Israeli government might one day decide that one state would be in the best interests of Israelis and the Board would then be at odds with it !!!!!
If you are ever in the unfortunate position of being invited to enter into “constructive dialogue” with the Board, do remember that the Board EXPRESSLY forbids itself ANY criticism of Israel; see the page we have entitled OMERTA for a full explanation. There is, of course, the ever watchful presence of the Israeli embassy, making sure they are never tempted; see the EAPPI page. An amazing situation. An organisation of British citizens, being guided and supervised by a foreign embassy.
The aim of this “constructive dialogue” is to drag you as close as possible to this zero sum position of no criticism. Be prepared for subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, threats and various forms of blackmail. You won’t be imagining it. You are not paranoid. They really are out to get you. Be especially vigilant if the so called Council of “Christians” and Jews is lurking around, as it invariably will be.
If you, as an individual or organisation, have already been identified as a serious miscreant, all of this will have been preceded by a well rehearsed softening up process.
Typically there will be a torrent of histrionic abuse. It comes from lots of directions at once. Numerous “Jewish Community organisations” (of which there is no shortage) are harnessed. The occupied territories are conflated with the Jewish people, who are “hurt and pained and…….lots of other things”. There is a deluge of self-pity and narcissism, explicit or implicit charges of anti-Semitism, and threats to sever relations.
When the miscreant is a Church or other Christian organisation, in addition to everything else, there is the inter-faith relations blackmail weapon. “You are damaging inter-faith relations, sticking two fingers up at the Jewish community, riding roughshod over the Jewish people” and so on, and so on.
The starkness of the strategy was neatly illustrated when the Church of England Synod overwhelmingly voted to affiliate with the EAPPI programme. It was said by Board president Vivian Wineman to have “CHOSEN the programme AT THE EXPENSE OF inter- faith relations.”
It is difficult to believe that a man with such a juvenile perspective is the top man in the oldest and until recently, the most important Jewish communal organisation. But he is.
It is either it or us, was the position. See our page “Defend the EAPPI programme.”
Before the summer is out, the Board will be demanding that the churches choose between its “inter-faith relations” with them, and the desperate plight of their fellow Christians in Palestine. The Council of “Christians” and Jews will be backing them up. If you are a church or other Christian organisation, be prepared for some extremely bad behavior from the Board when the British response to the Kairos document is launched at the Greenbelt Festival this coming August bank holiday weekend.
Then the abuse is toned down and sidelined, and the next stage of the corrective process commences. The threats and blackmail remain, but are now more implicit than explicit, and presented as being more in well rehearsed “sorrow” than anger. Prominant among the organisations mobilised to facilitate the process, is the execrable CCJ. It is they who apply “Christian“ pressure on other Christians.
The CCJ has a long and creditable history, but in recent years has evolved into nothing more than a branch of the Board of Deputies, habitually employed to do the Board’s dirty work for them. Its CEO, David Gifford, is effectively seconded to the Board while still being paid by CCJ donors. For the full picture on just how low this organisation has sunk, at least centrally, see our page “In the beginning, there was the Council of Christians and Jews….. ”
The corrective dialogue begins with the Board explaining the centrality of the land to the Judaic faith, with Zionism at the heart of Jewish communal life. It continues with allusions to how the Jewish people and the modern state of Israel are one and the same thing. Allies are gradually identified inside the the organisation in question, which is gradually edged back to the right side of the lines. For an absolutely classic example of the process, see our page on how the Methodists were disciplined.
It is not just acquiescense on the immediate issue that the Board seeks, but control. They seek to get themselves into a position, sometimes formally , where they directly have input on the internal policy making and the theological exploration of the churches, and to control Christian ecumenical programmes they don’t like.
As well as redefining anti-Semitism, they also seek to establish their favoured definitions of Christianity.
The Board shares and actively publicises the view that….
“Christian support for Israel is rooted in biblical sources”
“You cannot be a genuine Christian believer while acting against the Jewish people.”
By acting against the Jewish people, they mean of course, criticising Israel in ways that cross the lines they have drawn. The Board regard Christian Zionists as their natural allies in the churches, and actively work to increase Christian Zionist influence, therein. To repeat, the Board would have the churches accept their position that the only true Christians are Christian Zionists.
In reality, there is no need for the churches to fear the “damaging inter-faith relations” card. The Board of Deputies do not represent a faith, per se. In so far as they (still) represent anything (debatable), they represent a prevalent political perspective among an ethnic group in the UK.
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If it works for the Board of Deputies, it’ll work for us. ~Editor