Incumbent Board president to face leadership challenge for first time since 1964

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Incumbent Board president to face leadership challenge for first time since 1964

Charity lawyer Jonathan Neumann hopes to gain the 20 backers needed to stand for election against President Marie van der Zyl.

Jonathan Neumann
Jonathan Neumann

Marie van der Zyl could be the first incumbent Board of Deputies president to face a challenge in a bid for a second term since 1964.

Jonathan Neumann has announced his intention to run to lead the representative body.

While there are no official candidates until nomination forms go out and candidates obtain 20 supporting signatures to get on the ballot, Neumann has put his hat into the ring, citing experience battling antisemitism and work in the charity sector.

Despite this being the first time an incumbent has faced opposition for more than six decades, he insisted: “I do not view my candidacy as a ‘challenge’, because I’m less interested in the past three years than in what we can achieve in the next three to six years, and that is what I want this positive campaign to be about.”

As part of his vision, he said “for too long the Board has acted as a blockage rather than an encouragement to Deputies’ talent and willingness to apply their skills and experience for the good of Anglo-Jewry”, adding that he wants to “unleash the full potential of the body”.

A lawyer, authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in September last year, who has worked with the Charity Commission, he said he’s the right man for the top job due to years of communal experience, including in the battle against antisemitism and anti-Israel activism.

“I helped bring unprecedented legal challenges reaching the Court of Appeal against local authorities passing BDS (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel) resolutions, which, together with my successful interventions at the highest levels of Government, largely ended that practice.”

“Through all my work in the Jewish community over the years, I have a reputation for including a broad spectrum of opinion, even (and especially) when I disagree, because I recognise that a strong leader brings members with them rather than imposing views or policy from the top down.”

Marie van der Zyl told Jewish News: “I will be standing for re-election on my record of service and accomplishments over the last six years as vice president of Defence and president during one of the most tumultuous period of history for Anglo-Jewry, including both Jeremy Corbyn and now the pandemic. Any deputy is, of course, free to stand against me and this underlines the truly democratic nature of the Board.”

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