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Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush to lodge complaint to PM over UK Mission to UN’s tweet

October 19, 2017 - Board of Deputies - Share: Twitter Facebook

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush is lodging a formal protest with the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary over a tweet sent by a member of the UK’s mission to the UN.

The tweet, from an anonymous member of the UK’s Mission, said: “Let us remember, there are 2 halves of #Balfour, 2nd of which has not been fulfilled. There is unfinished business. @AmbassadorAllen #Israel https://t.co/BoAXOcsKdz

In an email to UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft, Jonathan described the tweet as “unworthy, hostile, unbalanced, negative and evidently intended as criticism of the State of Israel”.

The email to Ambassador Rycroft is reproduced in full below.

 

Dear Ambassador Rycroft

 I was extremely concerned to see the tweet from an anonymous member of the UK’s Mission to the UN below:

 Let us remember, there are 2 halves of #Balfour, 2nd of which has not been fulfilled. There is unfinished business. @AmbassadorAllen #Israel https://t.co/BoAXOcsKdz

 Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/UKUN_NewYork/status/920682694769565698

 The tagging to the tweet might suggest that it was posted by Deputy Ambassador Allen.

 The tweet has drawn a response from me in these terms, copied to the Foreign Secretary:

 Wholly unacceptable and s/b retracted immediately. It is at odds with UK Gov’s policy to commemorate #Balfour & moreover untrue @BorisJohnson

 The Board intends to lodge a formal protest with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

 The objections to the Mission’s tweet are almost too obvious to require stating:  the sentiments are unworthy, hostile, unbalanced, negative and evidently intended as criticism of the State of Israel. 

 Moreover they are plainly untrue as a matter of fact and history:  First, the “civil and religious rights of all existing non-Jewish communities in [former] Palestine” (the terms used in the Balfour Declaration) are fully protected.  Secondly, the United Nations offered the partition of Palestine between the Jewish and Arab communities more than once.  The Jewish community accepted, the Arabs rejected it outright.  Thirdly, the Balfour Declaration was no more or no less than a British Government expression of sympathy.  It came 30 years before the UN vote to establish a Jewish homeland.  If an Arab or Palestinian homeland was not established, that cannot be the fault of Israel, which did not exist, but would be a criticism of either the international community, or more fairly the Arab community who repeatedly rejected the notion of establishing their own country.  Fourthly, when the Kingdom of Jordan was in occupation of the West Bank for 19 years between 1948 and 1967, it steadfastly refused to contemplate the establishment of any sort of Palestinian homeland.  Fifthly, since its establishment Israel has offered peace to her Palestinian and Arab neighbours on occasions far too numerous to mention here.  At Camp David the PLO was offered recognition of a Palestinian state on 95% of the West Bank.  Yasser Arafat rejected it and responded by starting a cycle of violence which continues to this day.

 Finally, the tweet is completely inconsistent with the United Kingdom’s declared policy to mark, commemorate and celebrate the Balfour Declaration (all terms used by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in recent weeks).  In just a fortnight’s time a commemorative dinner is to take place to be attended by the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Netanyahu.  It is deeply unattractive for the UK’s Mission to the UN to strike a critical note and exposes the UK Government to a charge of hypocrisy.

 As elected leader of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the UK Jewish community’s representative body, I can say immediately that the tweet will arouse the community’s strong dismay and virtually unanimous condemnation.  I must ask that it be deleted immediately, with an explanation as to how it came to be posted and by whom.

 I cannot express how deeply disappointed I am.  I will be bringing this letter to the attention of the Prime Minister.

 Yours sincerely

 Jonathan Arkush