Skip to main content

British Jews criticise 'lack of balance' in Board of Deputies statement

520 people signed the letter asking the BoD to better represent the wide variety of opinions of British Jews
Wounded Palestinian evacuated in Gaza during the March of Return protest, 14 May (Reuters)

More than 500 British Jews signed an open letter condemning the Board of Deputies, a body that claims to represent British Jewry, for a statement it released on the deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

In its statement, Yachad, a  Jewish group, claimed that the BOD's statement on the deaths of 61 Palestinians, who died from Israeli fire, had a "lack [of] balance and nuance".

The group posted its open letter on its Facebook page and claimed that it had collected 520 signatures within six hours. 

It asked the public to sign the letter to express their "dismay at the lack of balance in [BoD] statement and calling upon them to better represent the wide variety of opinions of British Jews."

"It failed to mention the responsibility that lies with Israel for how it polices its borders, or acknowledge the highly irresponsible role that the United States has played in fanning the flames of an already tense and volatile time, by opening its embassy in Jerusalem," the letter said.

"The Board of Deputies claims to represent Anglo-Jewry and its broad variety of opinion, but their decision to release this statement without any consultation would suggest it has no intention of doing so."

Signatories of Yachad's letter including Labour’s National Executive Committee member Rhea Wolfson and top human rights barrister Adam Wagner, who told the Jewish News Online that “the Jewish community has a wide variety of perspectives and opinions when it comes to Israel, and it is incumbent upon the Board to represent that.”

Jewish groups including Jewdas joined a Downing Street rally against Israel’s actions on Tuesday night, while on Wednesday night others will hold a "Kaddish for Gaza" in Parliament Square.

A spokesperson of the Board of Deputies (BoD), declined to respond to Middle East Eye questions regarding Yachad's open letter.

"It is a democracy, and they have complete freedom," the BoD spokesperson said.

BoD's statement said: "No state could allow its borders to be breached by those who openly wish harm to its civilians. Israel is defending its people from repeated violent attempts at mass invasion."

It expressed "anguish" at "the violent scenes and loss of life at the Israel-Gaza border," and added that the responsibility for the "violence" lies with Hamas, the Islamic movement that governs Gaza Strip. Israeli snipers killed 62 Palestinians and injured hundreds. No casualties have been reported among Israelis.

The killing of 61 Palestinians in one day is deadliest since Israel launched its war on Gaza in 2014.

Britain had also called for an urgent and "transparent" UN investigation into the Gaza killings. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.