Tempers frayed at a Board of Deputies meeting on Sunday, in the wake of Board treasurer Lawrence Brass’s attack on Israel for its ‘treatment’ of the Palestinians in the West Bank.
Brass’s comments followed a visit to Israel during which he joined Yachad on a visit to the town of Susiya. It was led by an ex-soldier from the group Breaking the Silence, which has been fiercely critical of the IDF’s tactics in the region.
Brass said he had been “horrified” by what witnessed on the trip.
He defended his stance by noting that he had made the remarks in a private capacity.
However there was an angry reaction from some Deputies.
In a written question, Richmond Synagogue’s Deputy, Anthony Cotton, asked whether Brass would reject the support he received from Baroness Jenny Tonge who asked on 10 May, at a “Pro-Peace” event at the Richmond May Fair: “Who read the article written by Lawrence Brass? That is what Israel is like. Terrible. You should all read it.”
Another high-profile Deputy who asked to remain anonymous called on Brass to “consider his position”.
Yet two Deputies spoke up in support of Brass’s speech, with former MP David Sumberg saying “people are allowed to have their own viewpoint” and defending Brass as “a first class treasurer”.
Gabriel Webber, Deputy for UJS, also spoke up in support of Brass’ comments. “We don’t expect our officers to give up freedom of speech. It does the Jewish community good for other people to see that we have plural viewpoints, and all he was doing was expressing the Jewish principle that we should treat our neighbour as we’d like to be treated.”
President Vivian Wineman said Brass’s remarks were made without the executive’s knowledge.
Brass strongly defended his position.