Over 100 British Jews have penned a stinging rebuke to the Board of Deputies for its participation in a rally against Palestinian incitement and violence due to be held in London tomorrow.
The open letter, which has gathered widespread support from across the political spectrum, accused the Board of “incitement” for supporting a Zionist Federation campaign launched under the hashtag #IsraeliLivesMatter.
“When Jewish organisations, who claim to represent the voice of British Jewry, say only that #IsraeliLivesMatter, it shames us as people who care about the lives of everyone in the region,” reads the letter.
“To take what are presented as as uniquely Jewish troubles and lay them at the door of the Palestinian Mission creates a wholly unnecessary ‘Us v Them’ narrative, which cannot possibly foster the good relations necessary for peace.”
“To ‘protest the incitement and commemorate the victims’, solely in the framework of the importance of Israeli lives, itself incites hatred towards Palestinians, and shows no empathy towards their losses.”
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The Board of Deputies has joined the ZF, Sussex Friends of Israel, We Believe In Israel and Israel Advocacy Movement to attend to rally. But to some, this has generated disgust, and those signing up to the letter – called ‘It’s Not Just #IsraeliLivesMatter’ – lambasted the organisations’ twisting of race-related terminology used in the U.S.
“Death is not the basis for a campaign: especially a campaign which appropriates and offensively belittles the #BlackLivesMatter slogan on which it is (ironically) based,” wrote the signatories.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu felt able to condemn the violence on both sides. President Rivlin has condemned anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate as strongly as anti-Semitism. They are both right to do so. We are still waiting for our own communal leaders to show the same maturity.”
The Board of Deputies on Monday said the campaign title had been “misinterpreted” and that it did not imply that only Israeli lives mattered.
Board senior vice-president Richard Verber said: “I think that the ZF’s choice of hashtag was done with good intentions – i.e. to highlight the media’s initially poor coverage of the indiscriminate stabbings which have taken place over the past week – but I can also understand that some people have misinterpreted the hashtag as suggesting that the lives of only one ‘side’ matters.
He added: “It goes without saying that we deplore loss of innocent life on all sides. This vigil is an opportunity for the community to express its grief but also to hold the Palestinian Authority to account.”
Elsewhere, other communal leaders appealed for a less-aggressive stance, with Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner saying: “The past seven days demand that leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian, reject all acts of violence, terror and hatred, and counter voices seeking vengeance.”