Anger at GLA’s Shab­bat event

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

THE GREATER Lon­don Author­ity has up­set com­mu­nal lead­ers by ar­rang­ing a con­fer­ence of sig­nif­i­cant Jewish in­ter­est on a Shab­bat.

The Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion has ob­jected to the stag­ing of the event — dis­cussing the the­ory that the world is en­ter­ing an era of con­flict driven by a clash of civil­i­sa­tions — on Satur­day Jan­uary 20, thus ex­clud­ing any ob­ser­vant Jewish par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Andrew Bal­combe, the ZF chair­man, pointed out that only last month, Lon­don Mayor Ken Liv­ing­stone had apol­o­gised to the com­mu­nity at the launch of the Lon­don Jewish Fo­rum for caus­ing of­fence in the past. He was sent a let­ter on Tues­day ask­ing him to move the event to Jan­uary 21.

The main con­fer­ence speaker will be Daniel Pipes, the Jewish di­rec­tor of the Mid­dle East Fo­rum, an Amer­i­can think-tank ad­vis­ing US pol­i­cy­mak­ers on the Mid­dle East. He will de­bate the main con­fer­ence is­sues with Mr Liv­ing­stone.

Mr Pipes told the JC that he was “in com­plete agree­ment that the con­fer­ence, which holds great in­ter­est to Lon­don’s Jewish com­mu­nity, should be sched­uled with its par­tic­i­pa­tion in mind”. He would be happy to change his ar­range­ments in the event of reschedul­ing.

The ZF is also up­set that the only Bri­tish Jewish rep­re­sen­ta­tive i s An­thony Ler­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Jewish Pol­icy Re­search. “Tony Ler­man’s views on Is­rael are anath­ema to the vast ma­jor- ity of the UK Jewish com­mu­nity,” Mr Bal­combe com­plained. “But no doubt [they] will fit in with the views of the other 19 con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants. I am afraid the dice is loaded, and [I be­lieve that] the mayor should have en­sured that the con­fer­ence would be more bal­anced.

“We re­gret very much that this con­fer­ence is be­ing held on a Shab­bat and are dis­mayed at the list of speak­ers, which does not ap­pear to in­clude any main­stream UK Jewish lead­ers who would put for­ward Is­rael’s case.”

A GLA spokesman said the author­ity was “sen­si­tive to the fact that Jews ob­serv­ing the Sab­bath can­not at­tend events on Satur­days. But there is the prac­ti­cal is­sue of the con­ven­tion that Sun­day is con­sid­ered a day of rest for the great ma­jor­ity of the UK pop­u­la­tion, which makes Satur­days the only prac­ti­cal non-work­ing day to hold such an event. The con­fer­ence agenda in­cludes a num­ber of speak­ers who are Jewish. In ad­di­tion, we are try­ing to in­clude as many Jewish par­tic­i­pants as pos­si­ble by hold­ing ses­sions af­ter the Sab­bath has ended on Satur­day evening, in which they will be able to take part.”

The con­fer­ence is sched­uled to end at five o’clock. Shab­bat goes out on the day at 5.20pm. Mr Bal­combe noted that it would be dif­fi­cult for the GLA to or­gan­ise ad­di­tional ses­sions, as the ZF has in­vited Mr Pipes to an event it is hold­ing that evening. Zu­bin Me­hta blow­ing out the birth­day can­dles, with Daniel Baren­boim be­hind him, af­ter con­duct­ing the Is­rael Phil­har­monic Orches­tra’s 70th-an­niver­sary con­cert in Tel Aviv.

NEXT WEEK IN THE JC: Zu­bin Me­hta in­ter­viewed

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