Board president under fire for congratulating Trump
PRESIDENT TRUMPBritish Jews' backlash against Board for 'congratulations'

Board president under fire for congratulating Trump

Jonathan Arkush strongly criticised for congratulating U.S. president-elect on his victory, as feelings run high in aftermath of Republican’s win.

Jonathan Arkush, former President of the Board of Deputies
Jonathan Arkush, former President of the Board of Deputies

Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has been strongly criticised by British Jews for congratulating Donald Trump on his election victory, as feelings ran high in the aftermath of the Republican’s election win.

Arkush said: “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory. After a divisive campaign, I hope that he will build bridges and ensure that America’s standing as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free-thinking remains strong.”

More than 50 young British Jews co-signed an angry letter to Arkush, who said his thoughts on Trump were “laughable”.

They wrote: “It is beneath contempt to congratulate a candidate who was censured by the Anti-Defamation League for using anti-Semitic tropes, who has enabled mainstream anti-Semitic abuse and who has secured the endorsement of the KKK and other white supremacists.”

The group, including several Deputies and Jewish student society presidents, added: “This message of congratulations is contrary to our community’s best interests and is an affront to our ancestors and contemporaries who have stood against racism and fascism in all its forms.”

Ella Rose, a former Jewish student leader and Deputy for Bushey United Synagogue, tweeted: “No words for how badly this statement is judged. I’m embarrassed to be a Deputy.”

Jay Stoll, an executive board member of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “The Board has misjudged the anxieties that many have over the election of a racist demagogue to the highest office in the world.

The Board later responded, saying it “understood” the concerns, adding that it had spoken out about Trump’s racist and sexist comments previously.

Elsewhere, Wes Streeting MP, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of British Jews, said the result was “frightening for those of us who care about Palestinian human rights and statehood and fear for Israel’s founding principles”.

Several Jewish religious leaders echoed the concerns. Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said it was “an American tragedy and a tragedy for the whole world,” adding: “The world is reverting to tribalism. We mustn’t travel with it.”

Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said Trump “calculated a path to victory dependent on amplifying and people’s fear of one another”. Invoking American rabbis who “prayed with their feet” during the Civil Rights marches, she added: “Now it’s our turn to pray.”

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