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Board of Deputies responds to letter on Trump statement

November 10, 2016 - Board of Deputies - Share: Twitter Facebook

After the USA elected its new President, the Board of Deputies put out a statement congratulating the victor, Donald Trump, but noting that there was much to do after a divisive campaign, including building bridges and ensuring that America’s standing as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free thinking remains strong.

Following the statement some community members, notably including young Deputies and community leaders, wrote to us to express their concerns about the statement on the basis of some of the inflammatory rhetoric used by Mr Trump in the campaign. We have subsequently responded to their concerns in a letter.

The debate about how to mark challenging events beyond our control is in the best traditions of our organisation and our community and whilst there may be disagreement, the intervention, particularly by future leaders, speaks well for the dynamism, conviction and energy of our community.

We paste our response and the letter below:

Response from the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush

Dear Emily,

Thanks to you and colleagues for your considered letter.

Our community and our organisation thrive on robust debate and accountability, and so I am glad to have this opportunity to respond.

In this case, I doubt that there is much disagreement on the substantive concerns about some of Mr Trump’s divisive rhetoric during the campaign. Indeed I have publicly raised this myself, for example in this article in the leading American Jewish publication Forward.

I suspect, therefore, that our only disagreement lies in whether it was right for the Board of Deputies to issue this statement.

The Board of Deputies is regularly asked for comment on matters of interest or concern to Jews in the UK and around the world. The United States of America has the largest Jewish community in the diaspora, and the country’s policy has an incalculable influence on Jewish concerns around the world, not least Israel.

As such we have a strong interest in the country’s affairs and are in regular contact with the US Embassy, US officials and sister Jewish organisations in the country, and we comment on significant matters affecting the community, including elections.

It is in that spirit that, just as the Prime Minister, world leaders and our counterparts at the American Jewish Committee have done, we have congratulated Donald Trump, the democratic choice of the American people. But, in contrast to many such statements which were exclusively congratulatory, we linked it to our explicit concerns that I have consistently voiced over the past months.

We understand why people feel strongly about this and particularly after what, for many, will have been a disappointing night.

We have been clear throughout the election regarding our concerns about some of Donald Trump’s comments. Those concerns remain, particularly over those comments which are considered to be racist and sexist. Consequently, our statement spoke in clear terms of a divisive campaign and ensuring that America remains a beacon of progress, tolerance and free-thinking.

But it is important to remember that, ultimately, we do not elect the US President. That is down to the American people. All we can do is respond to their choice. And that response has to respect the democratic choice of the American people as expressed through their electoral system.

I would be grateful if you would pass this message on to the other signatories.

With best regards

Jonathan

Jonathan Arkush,

President

Letter from young British Jews regarding the statement made by Board of Deputies regarding Donald Trump’s election win:

9th November 2016

Dear Mr Jonathan Arkush,

As young British Jews we are deeply concerned by the decision made by the Board of Deputies to ‘congratulate’ Donald Trump on winning the US Presidential election.

Over the course of the campaign, Mr Trump has demonstrated overt prejudice against, women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in a manner which betrays the common decency that our faith demands. In particular we would like to show solidarity with the Muslim community of America who now fear the kind of attacks and discrimination that has defined our own community’s history of marginalisation. The notion that Mr Trump will become a ‘beacon of tolerance’ for America or the global stage is frankly laughable. Further we are also concerned about the message it sends to the LGBTQ+ members of the Jewish community, particularly as Trump’s running mate and soon-to-be vice-President Mike Pence previously advocated conversion therapy and opposed steps towards greater equality. We do not welcome the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. We urge the Board of Deputies to retract their congratulations and show their support to American communities that have been targeted with Trump’s incendiary rhetoric throughout this campaign.

It is beneath contempt to congratulate a candidate who was censured by the ADL for using anti-Semitic tropes, who has enabled mainstream anti-Semitic abuse and who has secured the endorsement of the KKK and other white supremacists. This message of congratulations is contrary to our community’s best interests and is an affront to our ancestors and contemporaries who have stood against racism and fascism in all its forms.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that ‘Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.’ We request that the Board consider how concerning their vote of congratulations is to young British Jews and retract their statement. In doing so, we hope the Board reflects on Jewish ethics of tolerance, empathy and compassion.

Sincerely,

Emily Hilton, JLM Member

Nathan Feldman, JLM Member

Jay Stoll, JLM National Executive Member

Joseph Grabiner, RSY-Netzer Movement Worker, JLM Member, Zionist Youth Council Member

Amos Schonfield, BoD Deputy, JLM Member

Amy Bentham, JLM Member

Louis Patterson

Sally Patterson

Rebecca Filer, JLM Bristol Labour Member Co-Chair

Aaron Simons, Oxford University Jewish Society President 2015

Conor McGurran, JLM Member

Hannah Rose UJS Deputy

Tom Francies, former LJY Netzer Movement Worker

Rob Abrams

Yoni Stone, JLM Member, Oxford University Jewish Society President (2015-16)

Liron Velleman, JLM Youth and Students Officer, BoD Deputy

Kate Cohen, JLM Member

Daisy Bogod

Anya Metzer, JLM Member

Michael Goldin

Noah Libson, Noam Madrich

Harry Kelly, University of York and Noam Boger

Ethan Axelrod, University of Cambridge and Noam Boger

Jessica Pinnick

Luke Wagner, Durham University and Noam Boger

Maya Benson

Benjamin Carr, UJS Deputy

Darren Cohen, Habonim Dror Boger and British Oleh

Lee Warner

Jess Lishak, JLM Member

Rebecca Metzer

Ben Lewis BoD, Deputy for RSY-Netzer and JLM Member

Rhea Wolfson, JLM Member, Labour NEC

Jonathon Leader, JLM Member, Ex BoD Deputy Habonim Dror

Gabriella Kountourides

Jake Cohen

Ethan Schwartz, JLM Member

Jessica Goldstone, JLM North West Committee

David Hodari

Yael Shafritz

Noa Krikler, Habonim Dror Bogeret

BZ Gilinsky

Gabriel Webber, BoD Executive Committee

Adam Lebovits

Ella Cohen, former Noam Movement Worker

Chesney Ovisowitz

Hannah Kashman, Noam Movement Worker, Marom Fieldworker and Zionist Youth Council Member

Henry Hatwell, University of Oxford

Ella Rose, Deputy for Bushey United Synagogue

Manya Eversley

Alexandra Darmon

Hannah Haddad

Anna Craven

Jake Berger

Jacob Inerfield, Former Habonim Dror movement worker

Alon Harshark

Jonny Singer

Laura Katan

Jessica Winterstein

David Tiedemen

Oskar Avery

Josh Marks

Samuel Gaus, JLM Member

Daniel Katz

Elliot Steinberg

Ben Samuel

Natasha Isaac

Joel Hart, University of Oxford

Adam Dayan

Samantha Lee, Movement Worker, Habonim Dror

Ben Salamon

Rebecca Daniels

Dr Rebecca Steinfeld, former President University of Edinburgh Jewish Society

Will Cohen, former AJ6 Movement Worker

Sam K Freeman

Yosef Tarshish (Joe Tarsh), Chairperson World Union of Jewish Students, UJS President 2013-14

Hannah Brady, ex BoD Deputy UJS, UJS President, 2015-2016

Vitale Stone, Noam Madricha

Charley Katan, JLM Member

Talya Finke, JLM Member, ex BoD Deputy for Habonim Dror

Ben Collins

Rachel Rose, Brighton & Sussex Jsoc Committee

Josh Newmark, Durham University

Talia Gellman, Habonim Dror Movement Worker

Gavriella Morris

Alex Goldhill

Joanna Phillips

Jessica Spencer

Amitai Landau-Pope

Jonty Leibowitz

Anna Lawton

Baruch Schlomo Gluck

Naomi Webber

Kathryn Rose, St Andrews Jsoc President

Andrew Williams, St Andrews Jsoc Vice President

Emma Livingston, JLM Member

Ben Van der Velde

Tim Motz

Rosanna Towle

Linnet Kaymer

Brianna Sommer, Edinburgh Jsoc President

Adam Crafton

Hannah Arnaud

Barnaby Powell

Abi Enlander

Bella Lever

Graham Carpenter

Ben Bowers

Joe Hamilton

Oli Richardson

Dani Jacobson, Cambridge Jsoc President

Theodore Powell

Sasha Miller

Elana Kaymer, Durham Jsoc Executive Member

Zoe Kay

Guy Pollack, Mazkir, Noam Masorti Youth, Zionist Youth Council Member

Abi Sandler

Daniel Marx

Daniel Cordell

Keith Kahn Harris

Daniel Vulkan

Kerry Lambeth

Jack Leighton

Isabel Schmidt

Rhiannon Humphreys

Lucy Prevezer

Sam Coleman

Zac Kenton

Daniel Lowe

Ben Goldstein

Jamie Green

Ruth Nicholson

Manuella Kanter

Charlie Phillips

Ester Raffel

Gabriel Lester

Jake Herman

Ben Grodzinski

Amy Goodman

Barney Burns

Sophie Jacobs

JJ Hodari

Ella Inwald

Richard Daniels

Ben Combe

Benjamin Levine

Claudia Marks

Ayala Gottleib Alter

Jamie Gareh

Adam Zinkin

Annaelle Harris

Nathan Boroda

Jacob Knight

Jonathan Taylor

Kitya Mark

Saul Wilson

Talia Fogelman

David Walmsley

Mark Livingston

Ruvi Zeigler

Asher Ellerman

Sophie Ross

Eleanor Penny

Roxanna Jebreel

Rachel Gurthartz

Debbie Minksy

Theodora Cadbury

Eli Shafritz

Judith Offman

Alexander Richardson

Tania Barth

Daniel Susser

Alexander Brown

Charles Keidan

Ella Grodzinski