Board’s moral cowardice is antithesis of leadership

Here is a list of antisemitic/anti-Zionist/anti-Israel/self-hating Jews and organisations (choose your own epithet or several) who have condemned Benjamin Netanyahu’s sordid little deal with the far-right.

It includes, in no particular order: AIPAC – the US Israel lobby; the American Jewish Committee; the Zionist Federations of Britain and Australia; right-wing pundits Eli Lake and Brett Stephens; national religious Zionist Rabbi Benni Lau; Deborah Lipstadt; and the Reform and Liberal movements in the UK.

I could go on, but you get the picture…

You will also notice that one leading diaspora organisation is missing from this line-up of undesirables. Yes, our very own Board of Deputies, on which I have served for nigh-on seven years.

Netanyahu has struck a “sordid little deal with the far-right”.

The Board claims that to condemn the tie-up with people who are devotees of the late, unlamented Meir Kahane would be to “interfere” in Israeli elections. They also claim that it is all about “dirty electioneering”.

So are all those aforementioned organisations interfering in Israel’s electoral process or have been duped by “dirty electioneering”.

Of course they haven’t. They’ve displayed morality where the Board has shown… well, hard as it is for me to say it… moral cowardice.

So, let’s say Netanyahu wins in April – a better than even chance – will the Board continue to support Israeli government policy if he keeps his promises to these “Judeo-fascists”, as described by right-wing pundit Eli Lake?

I note that the Board welcomed Facebook’s move to remove Tommy Robinson’s account. Netanyahu’s new friends are no less vile than Robinson, so why not comment on that?

While placating the community’s Israel/Netanyahu must be obeyed brigade, the failure of the Board to take a public stand hands the Corbynistas an open goal. How will the Board answer claims that it’s in thrall to the Netanyahu regime?

Leadership is about taking tough decisions. This isn’t leadership; it’s the antithesis of leadership.

I realise that the Board leadership was burnt by the right-wingers over its very mild comments against Netanyahu’s Nation State law. But it stood its ground and that is commendable. Now is the time to stand up to state-sponsored racism in Israel again.

No doubt this newspaper and others will be deluged with letters as part of a campaign saying that they abhor/detest/hate Kahane’s policies, but…

Now doesn’t that sound to you, dear reader, like the kind of thing yer average Corbynista would say when confronted by allegations of antisemitism? Something along the lines of: I abhor/detest/hate antisemitism, but… Or, I’m not racist, but…?

It’s time for the Board, which has taken such a strong stand on Labour antisemitism and racism against minorities in this country, to condemn this disgrace of a deal.

About the Author
Joe Millis is an author and journalist.