A motion to prevent engagement with groups who boycott Israel was voted down at a Board of Deputies meeting on Sunday.
The debate was brought forward by the JNF’s representative on the body, Gary Mond.
It sought to resolve “not to engage on projects with any organisation which has expressed anti-Semitism or opposition to the right of the state of Israel to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people, or which has advocated a boycott of Israel, Israeli citizens, Israeli organisations or Israeli products.”
Mond cited a youth training programme which the Board ran with Oxfam some years ago as an example of a group which is “known for its acute hostility to the state of Israel.”
One opponent of the motion, Joe Millis claimed “any boycott, we are told is destructive, not helpful, bad, and I agree. Boycotts don’t work. They are bad”; questioning why the Board wanted to implement a “boycott of organisations.”
He asked: “Can we have it both ways? Can we have boycotts that are good, or are boycotts bad?”, outlining an opposition to all boycotts because they “don’t work”.
Following the debate, the Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “I give you this pledge.. Not to reach out to anti-Semites, and not to embark on another Oxfam style project without the affirmative support of the Board.”
The motion was “overwhelmingly defeated”, with only a handful of votes in support.
A Board of Deputies spokesperson told Jewish News: “There was a lively discussion with good contributions from each side. We are proud that the Board of Deputies is the forum for democratic debate within our community.”