The prime mover in a campaign urging the Board of Deputies president to resign yesterday, claimed a senior cabinet minister asserted the representative body made a ‘very major mistake’ in issuing their joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
The statement condemned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia but some rounded on the Board for engaging in such an initiative with an organisation from which it previously severed relations over its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Others focused their criticism on the inclusion of a line describing the targeting of civilians as “completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions”.
While many would have seen this as thinly-veiled condemnation of Hamas, the MCB insisted it took the line to refer to both sides in the conflict.
Former Board vice-president Jerry Lewis last week initiated a motion calling on Vivian Wineman to step down.
Lewis said this week: “A very senior Cabinet minister has told me categorically that the Board made a ‘very major mistake’ in issuing their joint statement with the MCB, not least of all because of the efforts being made by the Government to distance itself and diminish contact with the organisation.”
But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles appeared to hail the move. He wrote in The Telegraph: “It has been easy this summer to feel pessimistic about the consequences of violent events erupting across the world, and worry about them being echoed here. That’s why we must all rally and support our hard-fought British values – tolerance, freedom and the rule of law.”
Pickles continues, that “this can happen in many ways – from the Jewish and Muslim groups issuing an unprecedented joint statement last week condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, to the 77-year-old nun who got out a step ladder to take down the jihadi flag flying over her Tower Hamlets housing estate.”
Meanwhile, the motion proposed by Lewis – which also claimed the Board ‘lamentably failed to deliver to the Jewish community the leadership required’ during the Gaza conflict – will not be taken forward to the next plenary meeting, the organisation’s executive have ruled.
The Board’s constitutional committee advised the organisation’s executive that the motion – “does not meet the necessary requirements of the Board’s constitution”, said Wineman.
He said the executive had now agreed a motion supporting the release of the joint statement, adding there would be “ample opportunity to debate this resolution at the plenary”.
It’s understood that the constitutional committee raised a series of issues with the motion including that it wasn’t submitted under the right part of the constitution. It deemed the resolution to effectively be a motion of no confidence, which would require 50 backers.
But, Lewis said that “the president is clearly Frit of any criticism and he is hiding under a bogus series of excuses not to face the music following his inexcusable abuses of the Boards constitution in making a joint statement with the MCB.”