Leaders of the community’s key organisations at last week’s heated town hall meeting at JFS

Leaders of the community’s key organisations at last week’s heated town hall meeting at JFS

One of the largest surveys of British-Jewish opinion in recent years has delivered a split verdict on the community’s response to the anti-Semitic backlash caused by the Gaza conflict.

More than 1,300 people have so far voted in a Jewish News online poll, which asks: “Have community leaders failed to stand up for British Jews over Gaza?”

The response has seen an almost 50:50 divide between those who are satisfied with the reaction and those who feel community leaders must “step up”.

This 50:50 split is in stark contrast to a petition calling on community leaders to do far more, which has achieved more than 500 votes in a matter of days, with petitioners bemoaning a“deafening silence”.

Anger has also been voiced in forums and blogs. In a widely-shared article, Jacob Lyons wrote: “It is now incumbent on those in the community who consider themselves leaders, including those who so proudly hold peerages, knighthoods and other honours, to stop hiding, stop appeasing, stop thinking or hoping that it will all blow over, and step up.”

Elsewhere, blogger Edgar Davidson said: “The Board have successfully stuck to their mission of keeping a low profile on anti-Semitism.” And community activist Clive Hyman said: “The paucity of thinking within the executive of the Board of Deputies is truly mind-blowing.”

The disquiet follows a town hall meeting at JFS last Wednesday, when senior leaders from the Board, JLC, Bicom, the CST and UJIA were heckled. 
 Anxiety levels have soared in recent weeks after what the CST called “an outpouring of anti-Semitism”.

Some 240 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in July, the second highest on record after January 2009.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: “At such a difficult time, when feelings are running high, it is inevitable that there is a temptation to cast around for someone to blame.

However, it is inaccurate to suggest that the Board or any other communal organisation with responsibility in this area has not spoken out loud and clear against anti-Semitism.”
There were signs this week that the Jewish community was responding, after the Sussex Friends of Israel organised a rally in Brighton that attracted hundreds of supporters from across the country.