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Simon Johnson: The issue of antisemitism is having less and less to do with the situation in the Middle East

Last week’s official CST Antisemitic Incidents Report for the first six months of 2017 certainly made for grim reading.  A 30% increase on the same period in the previous year, which itself was a high from the year before that.

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JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson on the release of the latest CST Antisemitic Incidents report.

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Simon Johnson: Shameful protests against the IHRA definition at Haringey Council

JLC CEO Simon Johnson speaks about the shameful protests at Haringey Council regarding the adoption of the IHRA definition.

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Simon Johnson: UNESCO must be called out for trying to erase Jewish history

JLC CEO Simon Johnson speaks about the latest UNESCO vote against Israel and the history of the Jewish people.

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Simon Johnson: Call to Action in our fight against BDS and Delegitimization

JLC CEO Simon Johnson issues a call to action to help us in our efforts to push back on BDS and attempts to delegitimize Israel.

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Simon Johnson & Gillion Merron review the 2017 LGA Conference

JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson and Board of Deputies of British Jews Chief Executive Gillian Merron review the 2017 LGA conference where Local Government Friends of Israel had a stand.

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A Message From Our Chair - Jonathan Goldstein July 2017

 

A collaborative, coordinated and considered JLC will meet the challenges and uncertainty we face as a community. Working together is the key to our collective success.

Britain today is divided, confused and polarised. Our political discourse is more antagonistic and less inclusive. From London to Manchester, our streets, markets and places of worship are the targets of terror attacks, increasing fear and unrest pervading our daily life and the way in which we look at our fellow citizens. Growing economic inequality, which manifested itself so vividly and tragically in the Grenfell Tower fire, is threatening to unravel the fragile fabric of our diverse society.

Yet I am eternally optimistic because, fundamentally, I believe that human agency has the capacity to make a difference in the life of every single one of us, in the life of our community and our country. We do so by coming together, by pooling resources and by maximising our potential. Our Jewish community is greater than the sum of its parts. We set an example by working together in good times and bad. And it is for this reason, that we – a group comprising just 0.2% of the UK’s population – are able to punch so far above our weight. It is for this reason that the JLC exists.

The JLC’s goal is to guarantee the longevity, vitality and success of Anglo Jewry. As Chair, my priority is to bring people together in the most collaborative, coordinated and considered way possible to solve the long-term problems we face as a community. The JLC brings together the best of our community. Our 33 member organisations each make a unique and fundamental contribution to our communal and individual lives. By bringing people together, we have the capacity to ensure that the right people take the right decisions to address the burning issues we must confront.

In order to do so, we need leadership, which involves pushing limits and stepping out of your comfort zone. Our community is thirsty for more people to step up and the JLC is at the forefront of developing and promoting communal leadership and responsibility. I am therefore delighted to be addressing “Leading In” on 10th July as one of my first public events as JLC Chair. The event is run by Lead, our leadership development division, and will focus on organisational leadership and I hope to see you all there.

Over the next three years, the JLC will lead by example, making a concerted effort to tackle some of the long-term, strategic challenges we face. We are laying the groundwork for a comprehensive effort to ensure the financial sustainability of our community – addressing cost, duplication and waste. We are increasing our efforts beyond London to guarantee that Jews all across the country have a voice and to effectively represent their needs. We are developing educational initiatives to train, nurture and retain good teachers in Jewish schools and to empower our children to be prouder of and more confident in their Jewish heritage and connection to our ancestral homeland. As I set out in my manifesto, I am keen to reach out to groups across our community to make sure that our “big tent” is warm and welcoming to all.

Reaching out beyond London is the first in a series of steps to realise the commitments in my manifesto and I am proud that Mark Adlestone OBE has accepted the JLC Board’s invitation to join as a trustee. Mark’s expertise across social care, and the optimisation of charitable resources, as well as his understanding of Jewish life outside London, make him a profound asset to the JLC.

The JLC is and will continue to be a force for good – to move the community forward by encouraging collaboration and cooperation. For that, we need your help. So help us reshape Jewish education for the next generation, help us guarantee that our outstanding charities can continue providing superb services to all in need, and help us reflect and represent the needs of our membership – and through them those of the community – to enable all Jews across our community to live up to their dreams. Challenges will undoubtedly come our way, but if we come together there is no limit to what we can achieve.

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Jewish Care Praised By Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, addressed an audience of over 1,000 people at Jewish Care’s annual fundraising dinner, where he pledged to do all he can to create new opportunities for the Jewish community and continue in his fight to stamp out anti-Semitism in the capital.

The Mayor was welcomed into the room by Lord Levy, Jewish Care’s President who commented;

"We are honoured and delighted that you are here with us this evening. We are a small and very proud community and being part of the fabric of London and our country is very special and meaningful to us. And to know that our Mayor of London is a true friend to our community is very important to each and every one of us."

Before delivering his speech the Mayor spent time talking to the Jewish Care clients including David, Sid and Hyman whose stories appeared in a powerful film shown during the event.

95-year-old Hyman Pittal proudly showed off his war medals to The Mayor. They talked about his prized French Légion d’honneur medal, awarded by the French government to D-Day veterans, as a way of honouring and thanking those who risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.

Hyman, joined by his son David and daughter Hilary told The Mayor how Jewish Care have kept the family together after Hyman suffered a huge stroke which meant he could no longer provide the care and support his wife of 71 years, Rosalind required.  Rosalind moved into Jewish Care’s Lady Sarah Cohen House. Three weeks after Hyman joined her. Hyman commented;

“Jewish Care kept my wife and I together when we both needed each other and provide us with the care and support we need”.

During his speech, Sadiq Khan said:

“Jewish Care is an incredible charity and one that I’m proud to support. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Jewish Care’s Wohl Campus in Golders Green and have seen first-hand the great work the charity does. What’s easy to see is that the values that are the basis of Jewish Care’s work are the values that are rooted in your religion.  As a community, you care for one another, you look out for each other – something that’s an inspiration to us all.”

The Mayor also spoke about the importance he places on supporting the Jewish community.

He said:

“I’m working hard to create new opportunities for your communities - as I do for all Londoners. Whether it’s more affordable housing, better transport, cleaner air or supporting business growth.  I’m also working hard to tackle issues that affect the Jewish community in particular and a key priority for me is tackling the rise in anti-Semitism. It’s simply not acceptable in London in 2017 - and I’m determined to stamp it out. As long as I’m Mayor, we will not rest until we win this battle.” 

The evening was brought to a close by award winning artist Craig David who donated his time to perform at the event. The Southampton born star made a visit to a Jewish Care home the week before the dinner to see first-hand the impact the organisation has on the lives of individuals commenting;

"Visiting a Jewish Care home had a very special meaning for me as my manager of 17 years and close friend Colin Lester’s mother is a resident at Otto Schiff Care Home in Golders Green. The dedication and care I witnessed was incredible as helping to restore elderly and sometimes sick people’s dignity is a difficult task. This is an amazing environment.”

Speaking after the event Nicola Loftus, Chair of the Campaign Dinner and Jewish Care Trustee said;

“It was a special and incredibly moving evening. At a time when social care has been under the political spotlight we at Jewish Care are proud of what our community has created on behalf of the elderly and vulnerable in our community. 

Jewish Care plays a significant role across the social care world and our staff represent over 70 nationalities who work together with over 3,000 volunteers to provide care and support for one faith. It is a model of what can be achieved by people coming together for a common purpose to help people live more meaningful lives and a reflection of Jewish values and of our community’s contribution to society.

None of what we do would be possible without the support of the community. Both the role our army of volunteers play and the generosity of our supporters”.

After the event Chairman Steven Lewis announced the event had raised over £5million commenting;

“Thanks to the generosity of our guests, last night we have raised over £5m, this is a great start towards meeting our revenue fundraising target of £15m for the year ahead.  I am also delighted to announce that we have made significant progress with securing commitments of £36 million for our next capital development project in Stanmore, leaving us with a £9m more to raise to meet the £45 million build cost”. 

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Claudia Mendoza: Zero Tolerance

 Image Credit: https://cst.org.uk/about-cst

Photo Credit: https://cst.org.uk/about-cst 

When it comes to security, the Jewish community has always been vigilant, aware of the fact that whether threats emanate from the far left, the far right or from Islamist extremists, we are often a primary target. Thankfully, the Community Security Trust (CST) does an outstanding job of providing not just physical but psychological security, by guarding communal buildings and institutions.

Sadly, we have witnessed four terror attacks in as many months – a car ramming and stabbing attack in Westminster; a suicide bomb at a concert in Manchester; another car ramming and stabbing assault in London Bridge; and a car ramming attack outside Finsbury Park Mosque.

These four attacks help highlight various stripes of extremism, which we must be equally vocal in condemning. For example, CST has long warned of the dangers of far right extremism, whose primary victims have always been Jews, and has continued its work supporting Tell MAMA in its efforts to combat anti-Muslim hatred. Fortunately, the response to these attacks in both London and Manchester has been uplifting – rather than be cowed and divided, there has been a sense of defiance and unity against the seeds of dissension that the attackers have attempted to sow.

In such torrid circumstances, it is important to remain calm and vigilant while remembering our collective and individual responsibility to have zero tolerance for extremism. Because extremism is so depressingly common in every echelon of society, there is a very real threat we will become – and indeed are becoming - desensitised to it.

The revelation that the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi hung an ISIS flag from his house, or that the London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt was filmed in the documentary ‘Jihadis Next Door’ unfurling an ISIS flag, should come as no surprise. The transition from so-called ‘non-violent’ Islamist to Jihadist is a well-trodden path and highlights the importance of the government developing a counter extremism strategy which must develop at the same pace as the threat.

As part of this approach, we should raise the bar and demand that people are held accountable for their words and actions, especially in the context of the recent terror spate. In any circumstances, but particularly now, it is unacceptable that the recent Al Quds Day rally in central London convened by the Islamic Human Rights Commission saw the sickening spectacle of antisemitism and extremism on display as we expected it to be. Police stood by while Hezbollah flags fluttered aloft and the Grenfell Tower disaster was blamed on the “Zionists”.

The IHRC itself recognised that it might fall foul of UK laws about the glorification of terrorism. It advised its protestors to display support only for the ‘political wing’ of Hezbollah, which incidentally shares a flag with the ‘military wing’ of Hezbollah. This is an invented differentiation mocked by Hezbollah’s very own General Secretary, Hassan Nasrallah.  But it sufficed for the IHRC to be able to claim its protestors were not in contravention of Section 13 of the Terrorism Act (2000), which prohibits the display of any article of a proscribed organisation.

This ludicrous and false distinction between the wings of Hezbollah - a gift to Britain’s enemies – must be remedied if we are serious about eradicating extremism from our midst.

Another case of lack of enforcement has meant Britain finds itself in a situation where a group like ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’, whose leader has praised Hamas, has been gifted a UK government owned building, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, to host a Palestine Expo – ‘the biggest social, cultural, and entertainment event on Palestine to ever take place in Europe’.

The government’s Counter Extremism Strategy is quite clear that there should be no engagement with extremists. Paragraph 96 of this policy is quite explicit – We must be careful to only give a platform to the right people. We will be absolutely clear about the people and groups we will not deal with because we find their views and behaviour to be so inconsistent with our own. We will not provide funding or support which inadvertently gives extremists a platform or sense of legitimacy”.

Paragraph 97 goes on to detail that the government “will ensure that the public sector consistently avoids giving extreme groups the air of legitimacy by meeting or working with them”.

The path of least resistance usually leads to inertia over such matters, but it is important that we now redouble efforts to ensure the government’s No Platform policy is enforced across the board so that we do not descend still further into a cycle of non-compliance.

Finally, and most importantly, it is critical that this issue does not just become one about Jews. It is about our collective British values - freedom, respect for human rights, and pluralism. You don’t have to be black to challenge racism, or gay to challenge homophobia, and you should not have to be Jewish to challenge Jew hatred. These hatreds are a scourge on our society as a whole and it is society as a whole which must fight them.

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2500 People Run For Maccabi GB

 

The Maccabi GB Community Fun Run (MGB CFR) lived up to its name as the largest Jewish event in the UK as over 6,500 members of the community descended on Allianz Park Sports Stadium on 11th June 2017.

A fantastic 2,500 people participated in the running events with an incredible 4,000 spectators cheering them on from the stands.

The event, hosted at Allianz Park Sports Stadium for the fourth year in a row, saw 2,200 people pre-register with a further 300 sign up on the day to run, jog and walk for over 75 Jewish charities and school. They took part in five distances – the 10km, 5km, 5km Walk, family favourite 1km and challenging Tri-Run where all three distance are combined.

Each person who crossed the finished line received a medal which were sponsored by The Jewish Leadership Council.

Each distance began with VIP starters who congratulated participants on their efforts of raising vital funds for the communal organisations. Mark Regev, Israeli Ambassador to the UK, set off the 10km distance; Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis launched the 5km and 5km Walk distances; and the Mayor of Barnet Brian Salingar and Matthew Offord MP began the 1km distance.

As well as cheering on their family and friends, the incredible 4,000 spectators took part in the Fun Zone which hosted activities for the whole family including bandana making, bungee trampolines and an inflatable assault course. They also discovered more about the charities and schools they were raising funds for by visiting them in the Charity Fair. The Health and Wellbeing Hub was home to The Jewish Chronicle Treatment Tent - a new addition to the MGB CFR - where they received taster sessions and demonstrations from industry experts to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

With the 20th Maccabiah Games taking place next month, a highlight of the day came as the crowd gathered to watch as the Maccabiah Torch was shown off in a procession led by Ride for Solidarity motorbikes and Team Maccabi GB Maccabiah athletes.

The final fundraising figure is expected to be in the region £200,000 surpassing previous years. Since the event began in 2007, the event has raised around £1.7 million.

Maccabi GB is taking a 400 person delegation who will compete alongside 10,000 other Jewish athletes from 80 countries from 2nd – 18th July 2017. They will compete in over 30 sports and in the Junior, Open and Masters categories. The Opening Ceremony will take place on 6th July with flag bearers Bernard Davidson, Brian Green and Jack Mattey leading the team out with the Union Flag, Maccabi GB and UJIA flags respectively.

 

About Maccabi GB

Maccabi GB and its affiliates are Britain’s leading Anglo-Jewish Sports, Health and Wellbeing Charity and has flourished for nearly 80 years. Part of a global movement operating in over 70 countries, our mission is to support the long term future of British Jewry by engaging and developing the entire Jewish Community with a broad range of sporting, educational, social and health and wellbeing activities, whilst promoting Jewish Identity and the centrality of Israel.  Each year, through over 250-targeted projects, programmes and events, Maccabi GB reaches over 40,000 people nationally. This is achieved by a dedicated team of professionals based in both London and the North. 

Charity Number: 1098206

For additional information on Maccabi GB visit www.maccabigb.org

For more information contact

Gilah Samuels

Maccabi GB

Email: gilah@maccabigb.org

Phone: 020 8457 2333

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