Universities Minister Jo Johnson discusses antisemitism and religious freedoms with Jewish groups

Jewish community organisations this week held a meeting with Universities Minister Jo Johnson, arranged by the Board of Deputies, to discuss topics including antisemitism and freedom of speech, religious freedom issues and ways in which the new government will be able to support Jewish students and academics.

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman led the delegation, which comprised colleagues from the Union of Jewish Students, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, and University Jewish Chaplaincy.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

“I am pleased to have met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other members from Jewish representative groups today to discuss Jewish students and academics’ experience in higher education.

“I have listened to the concerns and challenges Jewish students face and I am clear that there is no place within higher education for any form of hatred or discrimination - including antisemitism. That is why the Government is working with the Office for Students and UUK to take action to ensure everyone can thrive at university.” 

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman, UJS President Esther Offenberg, the JLC’s Claudia Mendoza, CST’s Jonny Newton and Jewish Chaplaincy representative Rabbi Michael Rosenfeld-Schueler said:

“The Jewish community is pleased to welcome Minister Jo Johnson back to the role of Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

“We would like to thank the Minister for meeting with us, and for the opportunity to discuss key areas of importance for Jewish students, academics, and the wider community.

“The Minister’s previous work in the role on the issues of antisemitism and freedom of speech on campus reassures us that under this government, Jewish life on campus will thrive in a safe and welcoming environment for all. We look forward to working with the Minister addressing our shared priorities.”


JLC Chair Writes to the Shadow Cabinet Ahead of Meeting on Antisemitism

Ahead of the Shadow Cabinet meeting on antisemitism (22/07/19), Jonathan Goldstein has written to all Shadow Cabinet Ministers.

You can read the letter here.


JLC Responds to the Appointment of Heather Mendick

In response to the Labour Party appointing Heather Mendick as a liaison to the Jewish community, JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein said:

“It is beyond parody that the Labour Party has hired JVL’s Heather Mendick to attempt to build the relationship with the Jewish community.

“From her dismissal of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, to her support for Chris Williamson, to her accusation that antisemitism was being “weaponised against the Left”, makes her appointment pitiful.

“When we met with Jeremy Corbyn last year we made it perfectly clear what was needed to rebuild trust. He has proven that he is incapable of doing those things. This is a sinister move and we will not be engaging with Ms Mendick.”


Joint Statement from the Board of Deputies, CST and Jewish Leadership Council on Labour candidate for the Peterborough by-election

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and David Delew, Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust, said:

“The revelation that Labour’s Peterborough candidate Lisa Forbes liked a racist Facebook post accusing Theresa May of having a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda” as recently as April – and previously welcomed a post indulging the bizarre conspiracy theory that Mossad and the CIA are behind Daesh – brings in to question her suitability for public office.

Ms Forbes has now apologised, saying she had not seen these words, but this stretches the limits of credulity, especially given the high profile problems in Labour and the previous antisemitism scandals in Peterborough Labour circles, such as Alan Bull and last November’s resignation of two senior councillors, who said they had been pressured against when trying to complain about antisemitism.

Ms Forbes also says she will seek antisemitism training. This is somewhat ironic given her previous rejection of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

We are fed up hearing that Labour opposes antisemitism while repeatedly hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face.

Unless Labour disowns Lisa Forbes as a candidate, it will only confirm the Party’s shameful descent into the racist mess for which they are now being investigated by the EHRC.”


Jewish community organisations send open letter to Labour calling for expulsion of Peter Willsman from the Labour Party

Jewish community organisations have sent a jointly signed letter to Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby calling for the immediate expulsion of Labour NEC member Peter Willsman from the Party.

In the letter signed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust, Willsman is condemned for his  “antisemitic slur”  in “accusing religious leaders from across the Jewish community of not only being liars, but of acting as a fifth column for a foreign state. It plays directly to age old accusations of Jewish conspiracy, treachery and dual loyalty. It is racist by any measure. It is also, ironically, one of the behaviours described as antisemitic in the definition of antisemitism that Labour’s leadership very grudgingly adopted last year, but have still failed to include anywhere on the Party’s website.”

The letter also notes “how efficient Labour’s disciplinary processes can be when there is the will to make them so.”

It concludes by saying that “Pete Willsman must be immediately dismissed from Labour’s National Executive Committee and expelled from the Labour Party”

Read the letter here


JLC comment on announcement of EHRC to formally investigate the Labour Party

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Theresa May and the Jewish community

Russell Langer, JLC Public Affairs Manager writes about Theresa May and the Jewish community

This article first appeared in the Jewish News 24/05/19

Theresa May and the Jewish community

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at UJIA charity dinner in London. Photo credit: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at UJIA charity dinner in London. Photo credit: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

Theresa May’s time in Downing Street has certainly not been easy. Despite her early honeymoon, she was significantly weakened by losing her majority in the 2017 general election and it now looks like she will be remembered as the Prime Minister who unsuccessfully tried to enact Brexit.

However, she should also be remembered for her positive relations with the Jewish community. May has been engaged with the Jewish community continuously throughout her turbulent premiership. On the eve of her arrival at Downing Street she honoured her prior engagement to have dinner with the Chief Rabbi. Even as she was facing a no confidence vote by her own MPs, she came straight from a hostile marathon session in the chamber to deliver a speech to the Sara Conference on antisemitism and misogyny, and made sure she found time to address the Conservative Friends of Israel Lunch.

During her time as Home Secretary she worked closely with CST to ensure the community was adequately protected. It was here that she provided an annual grant of £13m for security at Jewish community institutions, a grant that has continued to this day and rose to £14m in 2019.


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JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein thanks Theresa May for her service

“We thank the Prime Minister for her service to this country as well as her long-term support for the Jewish community. From her action against antisemitism as Home Secretary to her Government's protection of faith schools, the proscription of Hizballah and the strengthening of ties with Israel, the Prime Minister has been a true friend. We wish her the very best for the future.”


JLC elects new trustees, Louise Jacobs, Laura Marks OBE and Keith Black

At its AGM last night, the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) confirmed the appointment of three new trustees. Those elected were Louise Jacobs, Chair of UJIA and Laura Marks OBE, Founder and Chair of Mitzvah Day. The Council also approved the appointment of Keith Black, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Regatta Group and a trustee of CST.

The election of Louise Jacobs and Laura Marks means that, for the first time, the JLC Board of Trustees will be gender balanced.

The JLC Board of Trustees continues to reflect its broad range of members. Louise, Laura and Keith bring a wealth of communal experience and expertise, which will enable the JLC to better act in the interest of the entire community.

The JLC deeply appreciates the time and dedication shown by Edward Misrahi and Bill Benjamin, who have now stood down from the JLC Board of Trustees.

 Jonathan Goldstein, Chair, Jewish Leadership Council said:

“I am delighted to welcome Louise, Laura and Keith to the JLC Board of Trustees. Each of them brings unique passion, energy and commitment to the table and I look forward to working with them on the behalf of our entire membership and our community. Significantly, this will also be the first time since its inception that the JLC’s board will have an equal number of women and men and I am proud the JLC can lead by example.”


JLC appoints new Director of Community Strategy

Wednesday 15th May 2019

JLC announces David Davidi-Brown as the new Director of Community Strategy

The JLC is pleased to announce David Davidi-Brown as the new Director of Community Strategy.

In this newly created position, David will be responsible for leading the JLC’s projects addressing the long term strategic needs of the Jewish community.

The work of the department of Community Strategy is kindly supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

David will oversee the implementation of the recommendations from the JLC’s Elderly Care Commission, and work with the Community Wellbeing Task Force on the pilot programme to support children and young people’s mental health. He will work closely with JLC members in helping to ensure the sustainability of the Jewish Charitable sector. David will also lead on other strategic projects looking at the UK Jewish community’s long term needs.

David was previously the CEO of the Union of Jewish Students, a role he held until earlier this year. He has also had experience working at UJIA and JHub, and has volunteered for a number of other charities.

David will begin working at the JLC on the 2nd July 2019.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive, Jewish Leadership Council said:

“We are delighted to welcome David to the team and are excited that we have attracted a professional of his calibre to the role. David brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience within the community, and is certain to add a great deal of value to the work of the JLC.”

David Davidi-Brown said:

“I am thrilled to be joining the wonderful team at the JLC and look forward to making my contribution to UK Jewry. I am eager to listen and learn as, together, we strengthen and sustain work engaging and supporting younger and older members of our community; expand the vital work promoting positive mental health and wellbeing; and explore the opportunities arising from our values driven desire to cooperate and collaborate.”