Open letter accuses Board chief of ‘fanning flames’ of hate between communities

Open letter accuses Board chief of ‘fanning flames’ of hate between communities

Jonathan Arkush criticised for opinion piece he wrote which calls for Muslims to 'stand up and be counted' after the London terror attacks

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 sharply criticised for “fanning the flames of inter-community hatred” after he challenged Britain’s Muslim community to “stand up and be counted” after the London terror attack.

Almost 100 British Jews from various religious and community organisations wrote an angry open letter to Arkush after he penned an opinion piece in the aftermath of the terror attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market.

“Just as we as Jews have no responsibility for the actions of Jewish terrorist groups, Muslims are not personally responsible for the actions of groups such as ISIS,” read the letter, which had been signed by 96 people.

“It is deeply troubling to see a leader of the British Jewish community calling for the universal scrutiny of a religious group based on the actions of a tiny minority.”

Signatories included a member of the Board’s own executive committee, as well shul and youth groups representatives, plus senior members of the Union of Jewish Students and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Arkush drew their ire in an article published on Tuesday, in which he urged the Muslim community to “stage a huge rally of their own in a prominent location such as Trafalgar Square”.

In their fiery retort, the letter’s signatories this week said: “It is not for us to dictate how people in grieving communities should respond.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said:  “Jonathan could not have been clearer when he said, ‘I have no doubt that that the vile terrorists responsible for these attacks are not representative of British Muslims’. Jonathan has dedicated his presidency to engaging with Muslim communities around the country and calling out divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric, including from Donald Trump. In this article, Jonathan was echoing many eminent Muslim leaders in calling for their communities to reclaim their faith from the extremists. We have been glad to see initiatives like imams refusing to perform burial prayers for the terrorists and a number of Muslim groups that were already thinking about the sorts of things Jonathan said even before he said them. The answers to this question of how to tackle extremism are certainly not simple, but we won’t get anywhere through spurious name-calling.”
read more: