Views from the board

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Board President condemns “vile” film screening.

Following reports of a screening in London of Homelands, a ‘documentary’ by Katie Hopkins and former Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson on the “Islamification of Europe”, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has commented: “This vile Muslim-baiting film should never have seen the light of day. Shame on those who hosted and promoted such an […]

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BLOG: Reject bigotry and invest in peace

As Methodist Conference convenes, a number of motions related to the Balfour Declaration are due to be debated. Marie van der Zyl reflects on the importance of the centenary of Balfour for the Jewish community There has been a huge public outcry over recent years about the terrible plight of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe. The Jewish community […]

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BLOG: Faith reporting in the media

By Sheila Gewolb Last week I attended ‘Reporting Belief’ at BBC Wales in Cardiff.  This event, organised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Training Wales, was designed to bring together faith representatives and the media, to examine ways in which issues concerning faith communities can be fairly reported.  It also provided training for faith […]

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BLOG: Interfaith tour provided an uplifting end to the year

By Anthony Silkoff The consensus seems to to be that 2016 was a pretty bad year. So it came as a huge relief when Limmud conference – with its debates, dancing and doughnuts – came along and saved my year. Although as the organiser I might be biased, I felt the Board of Deputies’ interfaith […]

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BLOG: Remembering the lives of our fallen soldiers

By Denise Lester The Board of Deputies is proud and privileged to support and participate in the Annual AJEX March. This year like last was special. It is essential that the good deeds and the lives of the fallen Jewish soldiers in active service over the years be remembered. The Board of Deputies, with its […]

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A new approach for Pikuach

By Jeffrey Leader Since its first publication in 1996 the Pikuach Framework for Inspection has closely mirrored its Ofsted counterpart. There were good reasons for this. Firstly, schools felt comfortable responding to a framework that they were familiar with having been through the Ofsted ‘experience.’ They also felt that an Ofsted model for the inspection […]

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What’s changed about Being Jewish in Scotland

By Ephraim Borowski SCoJeC’s inquiry into “Being Jewish in Scotland” was commissioned by the Scottish Government Community Safety Unit (CSU) after we told them about a young mother who had spoken at one of our events about her daughter being taunted in the playground that “you killed Christ”, and the teacher’s response, “Well you did!” […]

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It’s time to ban the Hezbollah flag

By Steven Jaffe Growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s I’m familiar with the concept of a political party which has a terrorist wing. Or was it the other way round? “With an armalite in one hand and a ballot box in the other, we will take power in Ireland” – was […]

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A tale of three inquiries

By Gillian Merron and Simon Johnson Despite all the momentous events happening in the news, the issue of antisemitism in politics in general and especially in the Labour Party keeps on attracting comment. We would not be surprised if the community was finding it hard to make sense of it all. There are three inquiries […]

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Small communities are thriving

By Sheila Gewolb Over the past few weeks, I have been privileged to visit two small vibrant communities as part of my continuing commitment, as Chair of the Board’s Community and Education Division, to support all UK Jewish communities, whatever their size. Catford and Bromley United and Luton United synagogues have many similarities and have […]

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The Forgotten Cemeteries

By Colin Spanjar One of the projects that occupies much of my time at work is that of the “forgotten cemeteries”. People assume that we have always lived in London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Manchester etc but in fact vibrant communities have existed throughout the last 300 years from Penzance in the south to Sunderland in […]

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Azerbaijan – Little known bastion of interfaith tolerance

Azerbaijan doesn’t always have the best name recognition – indeed it was subject of a sketch at the Eurovision Song Contest where Swedish comedian Sarah Dawn Finer (AKA Lynda Woodruff) repeatedly mispronounced the name of the country. Recent and upcoming events such as the Europe Games and Formula 1 attracted some media attention, but besides […]

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Israel at 68

By David Harris Israel celebrates its 68th birthday this week. Let me put my cards on the table. I’m not dispassionate when it comes to Israel. Quite the contrary. The establishment of the state in 1948; the fulfillment of its envisioned role as home and haven for Jews from around the world; its wholehearted embrace of […]

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Connecting the dots: Advocating for Jews on the diplomatic scene

As International Relations Officer at the Board of Deputies, two days rarely look the same. As well as dealing with a dizzying array of international Jewish organisations (two Jews, three organisations…), I can often be found raising the community’s concerns with civil servants at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), taking part in advocacy efforts […]

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Delivering the messages of Judaism to London schoolchildren

  Together with Sara Perlmutter, the Board’s Education Development Manager, I recently delivered the first of three sessions on Judaism to year 10 pupils at the London Academy in Stanmore. Focusing on the theme of Diversity, nearly 200 boys and girls aged 14-15, many of whom follow the Muslim faith, heard our own personal stories. […]

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Tribute to a true friend of our community

By Natan Levy “It’s highly unusual for a synagogue to hold a celebration to honour a local Christian minister. But Rev’d Colin Smith is no usual minister.” Thus began the vote of thanks from Board President Jonathan Arkush as Barnet Synagogue and the Board of Deputies paid tribute to Rev’d Smith who is leaving London […]

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Hundreds of children discover the Jewish way of life

By Sara Perlmutter More than 700 students plus 100 teachers and parents from Suffolk had a taste of the Jewish way of life when the Jewish Living Experience exhibition came to Ipswich in October. The travelling exhibition, which includes information on core Jewish values, festivals, the synagogue, Jewish dietary laws, life-cycle events and much more, […]

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Antwerp, where celebrating Israel is… normal

By Steven Jaffe In Belgium, armed troops are still deployed outside synagogues and Jewish community premises – an unnerving sight, particularly at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, scene of a horrific terrorist attack in 2014. That’s what made the Shalom Festival particularly intriguing, surprising – and welcome. Right in the heart of Antwerp, Belgium’s second city, […]

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Fifteen ways that being Jewish is meaningful

Surveys reveal a disturbingly large number of American Jews who feel disconnected from their Jewish identity. How painfully sad. In response, and with the High Holy Days just around the corner, let me share what being Jewish means to me. It means championing what is arguably the single most revolutionary concept in the annals of human […]

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A message from Vivian Wineman

In the week following the end of my term at the Board I went in for what I expected to be a routine medical check –up. I was advised then that I needed further examination which eventually resulted in my having extensive invasive surgery even though I have not had any pain or other symptom. […]

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Questions prompted by royal Nazi salutes

By Alex Brummer As the son of a refugee from the Shoah whose father found refuge in Britain I cannot but have mixed feelings about the images of a young Princess Elizabeth being schooled in the Nazi salute by the Queen Mother and her uncle the future Edward VIII.  The UK is after all the […]

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Lifting sanctions will enable Iran to export terror

By Alex Brummer President Obama finally has won the foreign policy victory he has craved with the signing of a nuclear disarmament deal with Iran. The agreement between Tehran and the world’s six largest powers, including the United States, signals the end of decades of hostility dating back to the Iranian revolution which brought the […]

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Heightened public awareness of antisemitism can cause a change in attitudes

By Alex Brummer The triple terrorist atrocities in Tunisia, Kuwait and Southern France have provided a sharp remainder of the dangers posed to all civilised society by those indoctrinated with Islamic extremism. It also brought back bitter memories of recent European antisemitic attacks on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, the Hyper Cacher in Paris and […]

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Ukrainian choir hit the high notes with the help of the Board

By Alex Brummer As one of those present at the European Jewish Choral Festival at the West London Synagogue on Sunday 14 June one could not but be impressed by the bravery and optimism of the Lviv Ensemble ‘Varnitshkes’ from Ukraine. Their presence on the programme owes a great deal of credit to the good […]

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The Israeli drug company which is taking on the world

One of my favourite statistics about surging British-Israel trade is that one out of every seven prescriptions filled by the NHS is sourced from Israeli pharmaceutical companies. The high dependence of the NHS on Israeli ethical drugs is just one of the symbols of deepening economic relationship between the UK and Israel which with the […]

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How Muslim and Jewish women can change our communities

By Laura Marks The Jewish Museum was abuzz with women’s laughter, chatter and excitement.  But this was no regular gathering and the driving under discussion related to the national agenda rather than to children in cars!  The room was filled with over 100 prominent Jewish and Muslim women coming together to plan for the autumn […]

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Jonathan Arkush’s letter to Deputies and staff

Dear Board staff team, I take up the position of President of the Board today.  I am the 47th President to hold the office since 1760 and I am very conscious of the remarkable legacy of history and tradition associated with the post.  But my main thoughts are for the future and the Board’s critical mission […]

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Encouraging developments at Amnesty

By Alex Brummer Amnesty International is not known for its pro-Israel views. Indeed, it was a noisy critic of the role of Israeli forces during ‘Operative Protective Edge’ in Gaza in the summer of 2014. So it was greatly encouraging this week to see its latest report on the region in which the human rights […]

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How Poland is reconnecting with its Jewish roots

By David Walsh Revival, renaissance, looking to the future – just some of the terms used by various organisations and the Polish government when describing the state of Jewish life in Poland today. You would think that few would have to be reminded that Poland is the world’s biggest graveyard for Jews. Its huge Jewish […]

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Three years on the International Division

As this is the end of this Triennial I thought it would be a good moment to reflect on the last three years. I wanted to thank each and every one of you on the International Division including our loyal band of co-opted members and observers, for the way in which the ID has operated. […]

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Did the victims of Belsen suffer the worst fate of all?

By Vivian Wineman It is one of the ironies of the Holocaust that the event chosen to be marked by Holocaust Memorial Day, the liberation of Auschwitz, made very little impact in the West when it happened. Auschwitz was liberated by The Red Army with no Western press or media on hand. By contrast, the […]

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The rise and rise of Teva

By Alex Brummer One of the great untold stories of Israeli commerce is the rise and rise of the generic pharmaceutical company Teva which this week launched a $40 billion bid for a European competitor Mylan. It is by the far the biggest takeover every attempted by an Israeli enterprise and comes at a time […]

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Jews sing a new song in the “gates of hell”

Ben Rich has recently returned from Poland where he participated in the March of the Living, an annual symbolic march between the Auschwitz concentration camp and its twin death camp Birkenau.  Here, he describes the experience…  Auschwitz-Birkenau is the symbol of pure evil. Over a million Jews – nearly a quarter of them children – […]

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Another holocaust so difficult to understand

By Vivian Wineman Although the Holocaust is the event which epitomises genocide, the term was in fact coined by a Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael  Lemkin during the Nazi period to refer to the Turkish massacre of the Armenians in the First World War. Not surprisingly Holocaust Memorial Day fixed on the anniversary of the day […]

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The largest UK Holocaust commemoration ever – will you be there?

By Neil Martin ‘Build it and they will come’ – that was the advice I was given when we first muted the idea of a large-scale event to mark the 70th  anniversary since Liberation this Yom HaShoah. Now with over 3000 already registered in advance to attend, and over 120 communal organisations joining the ‘Remember […]

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Taking the Seder to church

By Ivor Millman The north London Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews is small in terms of numbers of paid-up members but we have an active committee of members of both faiths, both clergy and laity. We hold three public events each year, a demonstrated Seder, an AGM with outside speakers and an Advent/Chanukah event and social. […]

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President’s Pesach message

As I write my final Pesach message as President I reflect on a period of great challenges and achievements. The challenges are obvious; the achievements made possible with our new team, new premises and new leadership are becoming ever more so. First within a matter of weeks there is the General Election. We at the Board have been attempting […]

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Israel’s power places huge responsibility on its actions

By Vivian Wineman It feels as if there has never been a quiet time for Israel’s supporters. The last We Believe in Israel conference took place in 2011. At the time the issue was the blockade of Gaza. Today we have the results of the elections to consider and their impact on relations between the […]

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Election night party at Bicom

By Alex Brummer Bicom generously hosted an Israeli election night part at the Milbank Tower in Central London attended by His Excellency  the Israel Ambassador Daniel Taub and a number of MPs. Guests were provided with fact sheets on all the parties competing and voting cards for a mock election. There were regular updates from […]

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A successful and diverse Glasgow Day Limmud

By Alex Brummer Public affairs director Philip Rosenberg, interfaith projects officer Natan Levy and I  were among the Board speakers at the  Glasgow Day Limmud on Sunday March 8 which attracted more than 200 delegates mainly from the Glasgow and Edinburgh communities. In my first session I looked at the roles played by Jews in the financial crisis. […]

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Iran row erupts as Netanyahu goes to Washington

The scale of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference in Washington DC is truly mind boggling and a little intimidating. Some 16,000 Jewish activists, Christian and minority supporters of Israel from every corner of the United States, gathered under one roof at Washington’s cavernous Convention Centre. The atmosphere is business-like and professional with delegates, […]

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Muslims and Jews co-operating over religious slaughter

By Jonny Wineberg and Mohammed Amin Jews and Muslims face similar pressures from the “Animal welfare lobby” trying to ban slaughter without pre-stunning. Accordingly our two communities have long co-operated over this issue. The most recent example was led from Manchester. On February 12, Sharon Bannister, President of The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester […]

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Denmark’s touching tribute to a heroic security guard

Terrorism is now permanent a feature of our lives as is the constant need to guard against it. With the upsurge in antisemitism all over Europe, a terrorist incident with antisemitic overtones was bound to be on the cards. The murders in Paris therefore while shocking were not so surprising. Copenhagen though was a different […]

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Chinese diaspora are learning from our experience

Photo: (From left) Gillian Merron, Qui Yuanping and Vivian Wineman It might have been thought that a country the size of China had little to learn from the Jewish community. But a lunch in London, organised by the World Jewish Congress, underlined the ancient ties between China and the Jews and sought to build on […]

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Quiet revolution that is taking women to the top in our community

Three of our communal organisations are leading a quiet revolution this month. In the firm belief that holding women back is not in their best interests, World Jewish Relief, JLiving (formerly JCHA) and Masorti Judaism have each decided to be guinea pigs in the brand new Gender Equality Plan pilot – the first such initiative, […]

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‘Yo soy Nisman’

Many of Argentina’s 200,000 Jews – the largest community in South America – are descended either from Russian pedlars who fled pogroms to become gauchos on land acquired by Baron de Hirsch or from Holocaust survivors welcomed by Juan Peron (alongside Nazi fugitives buying entry visas with looted Jewish property!) to a bountiful nation once […]

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Westminster Abbey commemoration promotes inter-faith respect

On Sunday night I attended a service organised by West London and Belsize Square synagogues at Westminster Abbey a fitting if slightly ironic end to a week of  commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It was fitting, because to hold a Holocaust commemoration in such glorious surroundings and in such an atmosphere […]

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Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Alex Brummer – Vice President Wrapped in narrow striped blue and white scarves the survivors some ancient and frail, others upright, chests forward and proudly strong made their way out through the gate of death into the dark the snowflakes falling. They made the trudge through the crisp snow, in path dug alongside the railway […]

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Our responsibility to carry forward the message of the Holocaust

As the lights dimmed in Westminster Central Hall and the Holocaust memorial ceremony began, the room quivered in expectation, hesitation and relief.  After hours of waiting, months of planning, but for some 70 years of remembering, we were all fearful of reopening the wounds, revisiting the horrors and reengaging with the issues. As vice chair […]

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Message from The Baptist Union of Great Britain

Greetings to the Board of Deputies To our friends within the Jewish communities within Great Britain: Shalom As fellow people of faith who share so much in common, we write to you today to express our deep concern for your community. We pledge to you our prayers and support at this time when you have […]

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Women, the Board and the single transferable vote

The Women’s Group have  hosted a meeting with Gillian Merron, our CEO since July 2014. We are going through difficult times and very much appreciated that Gillian took the time to support us and speak to us about the forthcoming elections and the way the Single Transferable Vote works. She wanted to encourage women to […]

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Boys Town story is an inspiration

By Alex Brummer The Board of Deputies and Boys Town  in London were for many years close neighbours at our former headquarters in Bloomsbury Square. The work of Boys Town in integrating young men from all corners of the world and raising them to be full participants in every aspect of Jewish and Israeli life […]

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Alex Brummer on Foreign Aid

By Alex Brummer, Vice President Few areas of public spending by the British government are as controversial as the foreign aid programme. At a time of austerity the government’s commitment to ring fence development spending and adhere to the United Nations commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of national output to the Department for International […]

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Walls coming down in Berlin

By Jonathan Arkush, Vice President Does the Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ring any bells?  Possibly not, unless you have long memories.  The OSCE traces its origins to the détente phase of the early 1970s, when the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was created to serve as a multilateral […]

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WATCH: Edwin Shuker on his journey from Iraq to the UK

Growing up Jewish in Baghdad, Member of the Executive of the Board Edwin Shuker remembers one thing very clearly: the desire to run away and lead a normal life with his family. The road to London was far from easy. Watch this special video from our colleagues at the World Jewish Congress to learn more.

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Essay on Israeli Democracy and Politics

Israeli Democracy and Politics The Zionist movement has always included a broad range of political opinions from left-wing socialists to right-wing nationalists. Despite existential security threats, Israel has been a pluralistic, democratic state since independence. Proportional representation means divisions in Israeli society are reflected in a vibrant, multi-party system. The original Zionist movement represented a […]

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A blog on Anti-Semitism in the UK by Alex Brummer

Alex Brummer on anti-Semitism There is no doubting that Britain saw a vicious outbreak of anti-Semitism during Operation Protective Edge. Scenes such as the display of ‘Hitler was right’ placard at an anti-Israel were deeply disturbing especially for those of us from families that survived or escaped the Shoah. British life has long been peppered […]

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oped from Berlin Anti Semitism Rally

It was with mixed feelings that on Sunday I participated in an enormous rally protesting against the rise in anti-Semitism across the continent of Europe. It took place at the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of recent German history in the very heart of Berlin. Just over eighty years ago, on 30th January 1933 this same […]

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President’s Blog on Scottish Referendum

Scottish Independence At the time of writing, the Scottish Independence referendum is on a knife-edge.   Undoubtedly, the outcome will have huge implications for Britain but, without wishing to sound parochial, it is the impact on the Jewish community that is my concern. First, I want to make plain that – whatever the outcome – while […]

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An essay on Zionism and the foundation of the State of Israel

Essay 2 – Zionism and the foundation of the State of Israel Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. The Zionists came to Palestine as legal and peaceful immigrants to their ancestral homeland. The League of Nations gave international legal recognition to the Jewish national home. Jewish immigration was given a new […]

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Board response to TUC Israel boycott vote

The Board has issued the following statement following the passing of a motion calling for a boycott of Israel at the annual Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Liverpool: A Board spokesman said: The TUC is being led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign into further supporting boycotts and sanctions on Israel. Today’s decision will mean […]

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There’s a growing army of grassroots groups working to defend Israel

By Steven Jaffe, co-Chair of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel and grassroots consultant to the Board of Deputies. We’re a national movement. We’re diverse. And we’re growing. At a meeting of grassroots activists hosted by the Board at the weekend I looked across a crowded room filled with representatives from 26 different Israel advocacy organisations.  What […]

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