Jonathan Arkush, soon to be ex-chair of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and a co-author of the controversial statement on the Gaza Massacre.

Organisations that have offered unreserved support for the murder of dozens of people – and the indiscriminate injury of thousands more – have taken a verbal pummelling from the general public.

Taking the brunt of the backlash has been the Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose hasty announcement claiming that Hamas held the responsibility for the Israeli Defence Force’s decision to gun down defenceless people – some of whom were more than 300m from the fence they claimed to be protecting – has rightly been targeted for vitriol.

This report is from Jewish News:

Hundreds of British Jews have signed an angry open letter criticising the Board of Deputies’ leadership for its one-sided reaction to the violence in Gaza, with Liberal Judaism even questioning the Board’s credibility.

Within six hours of it being posted online, more than 530 had signed the letter from British Jewish group Yachad, saying the Board had “deeply misrepresented” their views on the killing of scores of protesters.

Signatories including Labour’s National Executive Committee member Rhea Wolfson and Jewish Labour Movement vice-chair Sarah Sackman said: “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.”

The letter then called on the Board “to immediately reassess the procedures used to issue this ill-conceived and un-nuanced statement and to put in place a plan that will ensure that future statements will truly represent the community”.

Likewise, Liberal Judaism said “we deeply regret that Israel has not shown the necessary restraint” and that “the Board’s credibility as the voice of British Jewry depends wholly on its willingness to listen to, hear from and reflect the values of all sections of the community”.

A Board of Deputies spokesperson responded to the letter, saying: “We treasure the diversity of views in our community and are mindful of it. We made our statement based on the facts we were hearing. While every death is a tragedy, we hope that the public admissions today from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that nearly every single one of those killed at the border has been from one of their movements will give critics of Israel, and indeed critics of the Board of Deputies, pause for thought. These revelations demonstrate the challenge that Israel faces in defending its civilian towns and communities close to the Gaza/Israel border, and why Israel needs to be given support and some benefit of the doubt at this time.”

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

Here’s the announcement itself:

It 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.

“The responsibility for the violence lies with Hamas, a terrorist organisation with the explicit stated aim of murdering Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.

“Hamas is cynical in the use of its population – including children – to join known terrorists in violent attempts to break through the border and kill Israeli citizens.”

Here’s one Jew’s response:

How about this, pointing out that an eight-month-old baby was killed with IDF tear gas?

Even Andrew Neil, anchoring the BBC’s Daily Politics on Wednesday, had harsh words for Israeli government apologist Stephen Crabb:

This is what the Board of Deputies – and others – are defending.

So it is no wonder someone came up with the bright idea of presenting an alternative view:

Elsewhere, the discussion has been marked by propaganda and hearsay. Consider:

We would not have created a situation in which an organisation such as Hamas could flourish because we would not imprison an entire race of people in what is effectively an open-air prison camp, simply because they don’t belong to the same race as us.

As for the supply of food, water and electricity: We would not deprive hospitals of power in order to harm patients, we would not ensure the water was of such poor quality and so rarely available that it wasn’t worth having, and we would not shoot farmers in order to prevent food production by people within the ghetto – because we would not create that ghetto in the first place.

And what about this tweet from Tory Nick Boles, which provoked an angry response from Labour’s Chris Williamson:

And here we are, back with comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazis – and the lobbyists who like to lob fake accusations of anti-Semitism cannot do anything about them, because they are accurate.

So the side of reason is winning the argument, right?

In that case…

Why is the Duke of Cambridge – Prince William – determined to continue with a planned visit to Israel that will amount to an endorsement of that country’s murder of innocent people?

This issue becomes more complicated by the second.


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