Message from JLC Chairman Jonathan Goldstein
29 October 2018
The massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has shaken our community, and Jews around the world, to our very core. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and I wish Refu’a shlema to those who were wounded.
Evil has struck at the heart of our Jewish life; death has desecrated our house of worship. Yet we remain defiant in the face of hatred and violence. We recommit ourselves to peace and civility and vow not to succumb to this darkness.
This week, I encourage all British Jews to stand together with our brothers and sisters around the world by taking part in the #ShowUpForShabbat initiative.
This Shabbat, in synagogues across the world, across all denominations, in greater numbers than usual, we will show solidarity with the victims of the shooting and stand united against antisemitism.
Please do show your support for this international campaign and show up for Shabbat this week.
If you would like to send a message of support ahead of Shabbat to the Pittsburgh Jewish community, please visit the JLC page here https://www.thejlc.org/pittsburgh
Watch JLC CEO Simon Johnson visit Jami's Head Room Cafe in Golders Green, where he discusses the challenges facing young people and mental health, and why mental health is important to our community.
The Jewish Leadership Council is pleased to announce that Mitzvah Day is the latest organisation to be joining the JLC.
Mitzvah Day is guided by the Jewish values of tikkun olam, gemilut chasadim and tzedek, bringing Jews and non-Jews together to build more cohesive neighbourhoods and to strengthen civil society.
This year, Mitzvah Day celebrates its tenth anniversary as a charity and involves around 40,000 people giving their time to make a difference to the community around us. Mitzvah Day is one of the Jewish community’s greatest social action organisations encouraging interfaith interaction, volunteering and engagement in civil society. It is the country’s largest interfaith social action event.
The JLC now has a total of 35 member organisations. We work through our members, regional representative councils and across all denominations of Judaism to ensure the interests of the Jewish community are promoted.
Jonathan Goldstein, Chair of the JLC said:
“The JLC is delighted to have such a wonderful communal organisation join our membership. We look forward to supporting Mitzvah Day and seeing this relationship go from strength to strength.”
Laura Marks OBE, Chair of Mitzvah Day said:
“Mitzvah Day is very pleased to be joining the JLC. Mitzvah Day focusses on building bridges both within the Jewish community but mostly with other faith groups, opinion leaders, and the wider world. Membership will enable us to contribute more effectively to the discussions on the challenges facing both our own community and society at large."
Following the decision by Enfield North and Luton South Constituency Labour Parties last night to censure their Members of Parliament for speaking out against antisemitism within the Labour Party, JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson said:
“When the Jewish community speak of institutional antisemitism against Jews in the Labour Party, little can illustrate the example better than Party members gathering and hijacking a local constituency meeting to censure their Member of Parliament for speaking out against antisemitism.
Joan Ryan MP has been unwavering in her support for the Jewish community for decades and we greatly appreciate everything that she has done for our community whilst serving as an MP. The decision to censure her is a disgrace and should bring shame to the Labour Party leadership.
Gavin Shuker MP also bravely spoke out on BBC Newsnight this week in favour of the Labour Party adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full. No Member of Parliament should face sanctions for taking such a principled stand. When we met with Jeremy Corbyn, we asked him clearly to use his voice to put an end to intimidation like this. His silence is deafening.”
We welcome the news that the Liberal Democrats have formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition including all its examples. This is a bold move and will send a signal to the Jewish community that it has taken our concerns over antisemitism seriously.
The definition has been fully welcomed by all the mainstream Jewish communal bodies. It is designed to help ensure clarity around what constitutes antisemitism. The adoption of the definition will allow the party to deal with any cases appropriately.
We will be writing to the Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable MP to thank him for his support.
Following consultation with the Jewish Leadership Council, Community Security Trust and the Antisemitism Policy Trust, the Plaid Cymru Westminster MPs have followed the example set by Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament UK Government, and adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in full.
There will also be a motion presented to Plaid Cymru’s National Council at the next opportunity. This will request Plaid Cymru as a whole adopts the IHRA definition in full and un-amended.
The definition has been fully welcomed by all the mainstream Jewish communal bodies. It is designed to help ensure clarity around what constitutes antisemitism. The new description is a clear and practical working definition of antisemitism. It is hoped that through adopting it, confidence will be created within the historic Welsh Jewish community and in Plaid Cymru’s stance as a party which rejects prejudice.
Liz Saville Roberts, Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru said:
‘’On behalf of my Plaid Cymru colleagues in Westminster, I am proud to take a stand against prejudice on the grounds of race or religion. Political parties must be alert to their leadership role in resisting hate crime in all its manifestations.’’
Marc Levy, Northwest Regional Manager, Jewish Leadership Council said:
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Liz Saville Roberts MP and Hywel Williams MP. Their positive and constructive engagement with the Jewish community has been hugely appreciated. This concluded with the Westminster group of MPs adopting the full IHRA definition. I am also grateful that they intend on bringing the matter before the forthcoming Plaid National Council. This will ensure that the whole Party take the important step of adopting the IHRA definition.
On behalf of the Jewish Leadership Council, I would like to place on record my gratitude to Liz and Hywel for being so receptive to the concerns of the Jewish community.”
Danny Stone MBE, Director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust said:
"We have had a long and positive engagement with Plaid Cymru and were pleased to be able to liaise with the parliamentary party, again, on positive measures to better understand and address antisemitism." "Antisemitism continues to rise across the world and Wales is certainly not immune. In this context, Plaid's efforts towards identifying and educating about antisemitism are critically important.”
Joint response by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council
Post Sabbath, Jewish organisations can now respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s ill-timed and ill-conceived Guardian article on Labour’s antisemitism problem. Once again Mr Corbyn, of all people, has chosen to lecture Jews on antisemitism.
His Guardian piece repeats much of his previous Evening Standard article, published the day we met him to explain our concerns.
In that article and in that meeting, on 24 April, Mr Corbyn made numerous empty assurances regarding communications and being a “militant opponent of antisemitism”.
Sadly, since then, the vilification of our community and its representatives has worsened significantly, both in meetings and throughout Corbynite social media. Whether you call this antisemitic or not, the end result is the same: Jews and those who support them are being purged out of the Party. This is happening from Members of Parliament to local activists.
Without seeking to rebut every point of Jeremy Corbyn’s article, we note his misleading claims regarding consultation with Jewish groups and how his past behaviour utterly belies what he suddenly now says about Zionism not being racism. His words regarding the Holocaust beg the question as to why he has previously sought to relativise it on so many past occasions.
Above all, however, Mr Corbyn’s ideological hostility to the IHRA definition of antisemitism epitomises the enduring problem. His article falsely claimed that Labour’s new Code only sought to alter one part of the definition. As can be plainly seen, the Code alters and relegates four parts that say it may be antisemitic to: 1. Accuse Jews of disloyalty, 2. Compare Israel to Nazi Germany, 3. Hold Israel to unique standards and 4. Call a Jewish State racist. It is quite obvious why Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne are so anxious to diminish these parts of the IHRA definition. Furthermore, it is contemptible that Mr Corbyn cites the Home Affairs inquiry into antisemitism, whilst ignoring what it rightly said about him.
Actions are the only thing that have ever mattered. We heard and read the same words back in April, at the launch of the compromised Chakrabarti Report and before that, when the Baroness Royall’s Report was half-buried. None of the clichés and promises have been met, the hatred and vilification has intensified and the purging is now gathering pace. These are the actions that should matter, not just to Jews, but to all decent people who believe in fundamental liberal democratic principles.