A British cabinet minister lambasted a Jewish group on Wednesday during an announcement of increased government funding for the security of Jewish institutions, after the organization criticized her party’s immigration policy.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman barbed the British Jewish Board of Deputies, an umbrella group representing multiple community bodies, during her March 9 statement expressing “significant concerns” about the government’s Illegal Migration Bill, which proposes significantly strengthen the existing rules. unauthorized immigration, and it has been noted that it may violate human rights conventions.
The group’s statement kicked off an unusual exchange that highlights the growing tension between the Board, which is widely seen as politically biased, and the right-wing Conservative Party government. It also prompted criticism of the Board by Jews who shared Braverman’s suspicions about what they said was partisanship and overreach by the Board.
Speaking at the annual fundraising event of the Community Security Trust, Britain’s main Jewish security unit, Braverman announced a $1.2 million government grant for the security needs of the Jewish community and the creation of a dedicated task force to combat anti-Semitic crimes.
But Braverman, a senior member of the ruling Conservative Party and the daughter of Indian parents who immigrated to Britain from Africa, said: “To present contested political positions as public opinion is a metaphor for communal division. all.” On immigration, the “difference of opinion within the community” is “the same left or right,” she said. Community organizations, she said, must “transcend the political divide if they are to remain legitimately representative of their various communities.”
The President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl responded on Thursday with a statement justifying the Board’s communication on March 9. She wrote that the bill was “important for all British Jews to understand”, a simple reference to the fact that most British Jews are descended from people who left mainland Europe in times of deadly, violent or anti-Semitism. Institutional antisemitism.
Van der Zyl thanked the government for the increase in funding but added: “We regret that this announcement was made alongside criticism clearly aimed at our organisation.” There will be times “where we feel the need to express concern,” van der Zyl wrote. “We are lucky to live in a country with a political system where possible.”
The Jewish Labor Movement, a leading association within that left-wing party, came to the Board’s defense in a statement, saying Braveman’s comments were “beyond chutzpah”. A British Jew “one with a deep understanding of immigration. The Board of Deputies was right to express concern about the impact of Government policy on asylum seekers. Suella Braverman would do well to listen.”
Gabriel Kanter-Webber, rabbi at Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, defended the Board and criticized the Community Security Trust for inviting Braverman to speak in the first place. “Braverman’s politics are so fundamentally inconsistent with Jewish values that no Jewish space should offer her a platform, ever, under any circumstances,” he wrote on Facebook.
Other Jewish community activists as well as at least one community organization sided with Braverman.
“She is absolutely right,” wrote Gary Mond, the chairman of the National Jewish Assembly, a newly formed group which he believes is critical of the Board’s involvement, about the Minister. “For the Board, or any other Jewish community organization, to take a partisan political position on an issue that is of no concern to the Jewish community here and there, is a clear recipe for division among the Jews of this country.”
Jonathan Hoffman, a pro-Israel activist and former deputy representative of the Board, wrote on Facebook: “The Board was acting unconstitutionally. UK immigration policy is no business.”
Lance Forman, a Jewish Londoner who was a lawmaker in the European Parliament for the right-wing Brexit Party before the United Kingdom left the European Union, said: “The Board seems to think it can simply express left-wing views . for his leadership and that is wrong.”