A group backing the campaign of Board of Deputies presidential candidate Jonathan Neumann includes recent contributions from a former deputy suspended by the Board for six years for sharing anti-Muslim posts.
Leaked emails show Roslyn Pine has contributed to the online BoD-caucus group in recent weeks despite being removed from the Board in 2018 for sharing social media posts including a tweet describing Muslims as the “vilest of animals”.
One post, made on the subscriber-only Google group on 18 March, lambasted the incumbent President Marie van der Zyl after the Board released a statement expressing solidarity with the traveller community and claiming a “shared history”.
Pine’s post included the claim: “The idea that traveller communities share a commonality with us is absurd.”
Meanwhile, a further post by the suspended Finchley United Synagogue representative attacked as “pompous” a deputy who raised concerns about a book presidential challenger Neumann had previously written attacking the “Jewish left.”
In June 2018 it emerged Pine had shared tweets describing Muslims as “the vilest of animals” as well as calling Arabs “so evil”.
Subsequent comments made by her reportedly included the claim she “detests the creed of Islam” and “killing us and destroying Israel is an Islamic fundamental”.
Pine was subsequently found to have brought the Board into disrepute and suspended for six years from the organisation.
Jewish News has seen evidence suggesting Pine was sent an email under the subject “new members” from the BoD caucus group on 18 January this year.
A message sent “on behalf of Jonathan Neumann” alerted the “many new members” joining the group of the existence of a separate WhatsApp group for use as well. At the bottom of the email was the wording: “You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups ‘BoD caucus’ group”.
It urged those wishing to remove themselves from the group to do so by sending an email.
Further emails seen by Jewish News confirm the group has been used to discuss voting positions among supporters – as well as to comment on statements released by the Board.
One senior communal figure suggested the BoD caucus group bore similarities to that of Labour’s hard-left Momentum organisation – although they added it differed it that its appeal was ” for those on the right of our community”.
Pine’s post to the group on 18 March was in response to an email posted by Gary Mond, who is himself seeking election next month as a Board vice-president, who shared an article detailing the Board’s statement about the traveller community. Mond, the Jewish National Fund deputy, wrote: “Are there any views on this?”
Pine responded by writing: “Yes. Once Marie has completed her reign of terror she wants to move onto bigger things in the wider political world so she is displaying her woke credentials, at no cost to herself.
“The idea that traveller communities share a commonality with us is absurd.”
Asked to comment on the interaction with Pine, Mond told Jewish News: “I condemn without reservation anti Muslim hatred. I do not, and never have, to the best of my knowledge shared a platform with racists. I hope that is clear.”
In her second post, made on 29 March, Pine responded to a complaint circulated within the group by Jonathan Metliss, the deputy for Central Synagogue.
Metliss expressed anger about a message that appeared on the caucus group in by another deputy which raised concerns about a book written by challenger Neumann in 2018 entitled To Heal the World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel.
Metliss posted of the deputy who had criticised Neumann: “What a thoroughly nasty piece of work.” He then urged the BoD-caucus group to “scroll down” and read the message sent in by the deputy, which prompted a flurry of responses.
Pine urged the group to resist issuing a complaint against the deputy who sent the message suggesting this would “mean that we cannot do the same when we have much more potent emails we wish to send in reverse!”
She added: “Much better to attack the substance…or lack of it…in his pompous missive! Roslyn.”
Responding Robert Festenstein, the deputy for Prestwich Hebrew Congregation, wrote: “I agree, makes sense.”
Both Metliss and Festenstein – who are key supporters of Neumann’s campaign – failed to respond to Jewish News when asked about Pine’s involvement with the group.
Further emails show how the online Google group is used to plan tactics among those backing Neumann’s attempt to topple Van der Zyl.
Discussions are held in advance of Sunday Board meetings on what way the group should vote.
The Board’s current leaders are also attacked for campaigns around climate change, with the deputy Anthony Bolchover stressing one of the key principals of the caucus that “the Board should not involve itself in matters that do not directly impact the Jewish community or Israel.”
Another key principle involves a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism.
One communal figure suggested the leaked emails show the caucus was “ready to turn a blind eye to racism within its own ranks.”
Another suggested Pine’s involvement with the group contrasted with one of the 10 key pledges made by the Board in regards to tackling antisemitism, which included the demand that Labour members do not share platforms with those disciplined for racism.
Neumann had announced his bid to become Board President on 4 February. He has previously sat on the Board’s Constitutional Committee.
He says that by prompting an election he is “forcing accountability by giving deputies a real electoral choice”, describing his “transformative candidacy — leading to a transformative presidency.”
Jewish News told revealed how a row had erupted ahead of 9 May elections for the Board of Deputies leadership after the group planning a challenge to current president was branded “far-right” in a briefing document.
The memo, prepared by a small group of Deputies as a strategy plan to be shared among the lay leadership of the Reform Movement, claimed that a “far-right wing caucus” was backing challenger Neumann, of Shomrei Hadath Synagogue.
Neumann has been twice approached for comment by Jewish News, last Thursday and again on Monday, about the existence of the emails by a banned former deputy within the BoD caucus group backing his bid.
When asked about her involvement with the group Pine initially denied any contact with Board members since her suspension. When alerted to the existence of the emails she said:”I have indeed been in touch with a deputy as recently as today.”
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