Saturday, July 02 2016

UK Jewish body sets conditions for government engaging with MCB

 There’s a further article in the Jewish Chronicle this week which is disconcerting.

The paper reports that the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) has, in its joint submission with the Community Security Trust to the Communities and Local Government Inquiry into ‘Prevent’, said that:

Any future engagement with umbrella groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain must be contingent on them representing a greater range of views than those of the Islamists, and firmly rejecting violence in all circumstances, including in overseas conflicts.

The BoD cites the Istanbul Declaration and Dr Daud Abdullah, the MCB deputy secretary general’s, signing of it.

It goes on to state that:

There is no long-term value in building partnerships with those whose attitude towards violent jihad is contingent upon circumstance.”

“The issue is confronting an extremist and alien political ideology which promotes the supremacy of Islam over other faiths and democratic political systems, a core belief in antisemitism and the use of violence to achieve its ends.”

There’s much in what the Board of Deputies of British Jews has written to the CLG that is of concern.

Firstly, the BoD's demand that engagement be based on greater internal pluralism in the MCB is amusing, especially when you consider that the MCB is undoubtedly the UK's largest and broadest based Muslim organisation with affiliates who come from all the main Islamic schools of thought.

We wonder what the BoD would think if UK Muslims were to write to the CLG demanding that the government break off relations with them until they represent a wider base of British Jewish opinion than they currently do as a condition to government engagement with it?

And what if the MCB were to lambast the BoD leadership as ‘Zionist’, in the same way that the BoD calls the MCB’s views ‘Islamist’?

Second, the BoD’s claims that the MCB’s view, or at least that of its deputy secretary general, on violent jihad ‘is contingent upon circumstance’, and that it must ‘firmly reject violence in all circumstances, including in overseas conflicts’ is disingenuous.

Dr Daud Abdullah and the MCB have already made very clear that it in no way ‘supports the targeting or killing of British soldiers anywhere in the world.’

What is interesting is whether the BoD itself abides by these conditions. During Israel’s criminal aggression against Gaza - now widely recognised as war crimes - the BoD supported a rally in Trafalgar Square in support of Israel. The question to be asked now is whether, given the extensive documentation (Breaking the Silence, Amnesty International, UN) of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the BoD itself should be critiqued for its allegiance to a state guilty of perpetrating them? And what ‘long term value’ does the BoD suppose will emerge from its stance on overseas conflicts?

Lastly, there is something sinister in the BoD’s accusation that the violent ideology of Muslim extremists possesses ‘a core belief in antisemitism’.

From the trial of the three Muslims recently convicted of plotting the airline bomb plot, and from video messages left by other violent extremists who have gone on to commit terrorist atrocities, what has undoubtedly been a motivating factor has been the injustices they have witnessed and experienced, the results of western foreign policies abroad, including in Israel.

In suggesting that violent extremism is antisemitic the BoD conflates the case of Israel with Judaism itself making it next to impossible for conscientious objectors to western support for Israeli aggression to frame their concerns in language that will not automatically be designated antisemitic. It is such perversions that feeds the ideology of violent extremists and makes difficult the prospect of speaking out against bad foreign policy decisions that are contributive to the problem of violent extremism.

We hope the CLG committee, in reviewing the BoD and CST’s joint submission, will look closer and more critically at these flawed arguments.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 September 2009 16:16


0 #5 Be Very Afraidi - boom boomBe Afraid 2009-09-28 06:39
Once Israel abide by the numerous UN resolutions against them should their global representatives be allowed a voice in any governent consultations.
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0 #4 Excluding interlocutors excludes conversationMohammed Amin 2009-09-27 18:32
On my Jewish Chronicle blog at I have explained why I consider at least one of the Board of Deputies’ demands (as reported by the JC) to be somewhat disingenuous.

There is however a wider issue here. While it is superficially attractive to press the Government to exclude bodies from conversation, as the Board of Deputies is reported to seek in respect of the MCB, it is misguided. It eventually leads to the situation where you are only prepared to talk to people who already agree with you 100%; for them you don’t need dialogue!

In my view, there are only a few grounds for the Government refusing to talk to a body, such as:

(1) The body actually represents nobody, and its leaders are already known to have nothing worth saying. Such cases are rare, but probably arise from time to time.

(2) The body itself is criminal, or its leaders are criminals. Even in this case, as with the Irish Republican Army in the 1990’s, secret talks may be worthwhile, but it is hard for the Government to be seen to be talking with criminals.

Otherwise, it is almost always worthwhile having a conversation, even if the only result is to confirm that the body’s views are intractable and that further attempts at dialogue are not worthwhile. Such a conclusion is best when based on first hand evidence from conversation, rather than hearsay.

It would not upset me if the Government were to have such a preliminary conversation with the British National Party, although my current expectation is that one meeting might be enough to reach the conclusion that further meetings are not worthwhile.

The United Kingdom has a long tradition that the principal criterion for establishing diplomatic relations with a foreign government is simply evidence that the government actually is in control of the country that it purports to govern. That minimalist approach is also appropriate domestically, with the very limited qualifications outlined above.
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0 #3 Londoner 2009-09-26 20:09
What chutzpah, surely what is good for the goose is good for the gander? The BoD is an even more extreme Jewish version of the MCB in that it is so closely allied to the concerns of a foreign state & is unrepresentative of the panorama of British Jewry. The grassroots MCB would be well within its rights to reciprocate & ask the government to disassociate itself from such overtly sectarian powerful groups. Furthermore, who is the BoD to set government policy, unelected Lord Cashpoint Levy's "Special envoy to the Middle East"? Tennis partner Bliar has gotten his £1mn from Israel, oh yes disgraced & back in favour svengali Lord Mandelson (mendelsohnn?) has been aboard banker Rothschild's yacht...
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0 #2 Clear-as-daylight 2009-09-25 16:59
Engage should write to John Denham & the CLG committee with the above concerns
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0 #1 Give them a taste of their own medicineEast African 2009-09-25 12:46
I think they are trying to tie John Denham's hands.

Perhaps it is worth Engage bringing in the following as "conditions for engagement" for CLG to look at:

1. Support for illegal settlements in Palestine leading to ethnic cleansing. This is with manpower [dual British / Israeli citizensship]; financial; advocacy for Greater Israel etc.

2. Participation in war crimes by "soldiers" with either British or dual British/Israeli citizenship.
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