The front page of the Jewish Chronicle (22 January 2010) has as its headline ‘Muslim Council deal row’.
The article by Martin Bright cites a ‘strongly worded’ letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to the Communities Secretary John Denham. If accurate, it marks an unprecedented intrusion to shatter good interfaith relations.
According to Bright, the letter, signed by Board president Vivian Wineman and the JLC [Jewish Leadership Council] chair Mick Davis, ‘provides a list of ongoing concerns’ and that ‘MCB‘s (Muslim Council of Britain‘s) current leadership have consistently shown themselves to have a deep-seated ideological Islamist bias that, in our opinion, should not be seen to be promoted in any way by government. It is our deep regret that government dialogue now with MCB’s current leadership is likely to weaken those many genuine moderates within the Muslim community.’
The BoD and JLC seem to be intent on committing a series of strategic blunders. Rather than seeking solidarity and building a common front to address extreme right wing tendencies in Britain and across the Continent, these ‘leaders’ of Britain’s 250,000 strong Jewish community are leading their community no where except ridicule.
The bid to tell Government its job also emerged in the BoD’s submission to the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Enquiry: ‘In a joint submission with the Community Security Trust to the Commons’ Communities and Local Government Committee, the Board wrote: ‘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’. (JC, 24th Sept 2009)
In November last year, a BoD delegation hoped ‘to impress further on the Prime Minister their anger [sic] at Britain’s failure to oppose the UN resolution endorsing the [Goldstone] report’ (JC, 12th Nov 2009) .
Antony Lerman, referring to the BoD and JLC pointed out that ‘what is striking is how the faults of Jewish leadership are so often linked to matters to do with Israel. The defence of Israel seems to induce a moral blindness that is itself portrayed as the absolute in moral righteousness.’ (The Guardian, 13th November 2009).
More recently these two groups came out in support of Michal Kaminski, the right-wing Polish MEP, who, according to The Times (16 July 2009) is ‘linked to the BNP through a thing called the European National Front.’
A change in leadership is needed not within Muslim ranks, but elsewhere!