Chair's Message: December 2015

The absolute horror of Friday 13th November, 2015 will live long in all our memories:  cowardly deeds of infamy by people who have no soul and no compassion for their fellow man. Purveyors of terror who hate for no reason and who seek to undermine all that we hold dear.  Innocent civilians socialising as they would on any other evening, spending time with their loved ones or friends, only to be attacked by radicalised Islamic terrorists. Having recently suffered the Charlie Hebdo attacks Paris reels as do we all and  the war on terror has now taken on  a new significance with the west fully affected by it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said  “Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with President Francois Hollande and with the French people in the war against terrorism.” We all do! Especially when the Ken Livingstone’s of this world seek to explain the actions of these Islamic extremists as ones of justly aggrieved victims of Western aggression, as he did when he  commented the other day on the perpetrators of London’s terror nightmare of 7/7. I am not sure which is more sickening; the brutal acts of these terrible people or the disgusting justifications which come from those whose own moral compass have shattered in some extreme leftist ideological tryst.

While it is important that at this time we show solidarity in the face of evil, we must continue to live our lives as we should, not dictated by a fear of attack. That is why Chanukah In The Square will take place on Thursday 10th December as it has done these past many years.  We have the opportunity to fill Trafalgar Square and proudly light our Menorah for the whole of London to see. Just as the Menorah stands tall and shines bright, so should we as a community, and this is the perfect setting to do so.  This year, security preparations were already well advanced even before the tragedy in Paris. In the light of those tragic events the arrangements have been reviewed by CST, JLC, Police and the Mayor’s office: all of us working closely together, seeking to ensure that there is appropriate security for this important event. I am sure that it will be a great evening and you can read what we have planned later in the newsletter.

BDS continues to trouble us.  Simon Johnson, touches on the differing approaches that there have been undertaken in the face of actual and threatened boycotts of Israel since our last newsletter.

The BDS movement wishes to delegitimise and isolate Israel from the community of nations.  BDS has an agenda. It is not the creation of a Palestinian State (that is a by–product) but rather Israel’s destruction as a Jewish state. In order to appeal to the mainstream, however, BDS and its sympathisers push the argument that boycotting Israel will pressure it into making peace with the Palestinians. It is an absurd notion – in part because of the hypocrisy that defines the movement, whose activists never call for boycotts or sanctions against genuinely malignant and far more globally significant international actors, but also because while they claim a just cause they do not pursue one.

Some time ago I set out certain measures that the JLC and its members will undertake to help the Jewish Community of Great Britain to be effective advocates for Israel and a just settlement with the Palestinian People. One of these actions was to build a capacity for public policy and interaction with the mainstream population of this country and facilitate the work of activists in both London and the regions. A hub and central resource was promised and this has over the past few months been put in place. A key appointment is a Director of Public Policy and External affairs. This person would be there to help develop and execute agreed strategy and to assist both members and non- member organisations in this area of endeavour. We have recently appointed Mr Bernard Hughes to this important post. Bernard will take up his new role at the beginning of January next year.  He has a wealth of experience to bring to the table and it is a great pleasure to welcome him on board.

This is the time of year that many of us take some time off to recharge our batteries as we begin to think about the opportunities and challenges of a new year.  I am confident that while 2016 will be no less complex than previous years we as a community are better equipped going into this new year than we have been for some time. My best wishes for the holiday season and for a successful and peaceful 2016.