Voices founder quits ‘out of touch’ group
ONE OF Britain’s leading Progressive rabbis has quit the steering committee of Independent Jewish Voices, the controversial group formed earlier this year to challenge mainstream Jewish organisations over Israel.
Rabbi Dr David Goldberg, emeritus rabbi of London’s Liberal Jewish Synagogue, was a member of the group which launched IJV in February.
But he said this week: “I’ve become disappointed at the lack of direction. It had a wonderful start due to the publicity value of the eminent names who were persuaded or who were willing to sign a statement on human rights, Israel and the Occupied Territories.
“Since then, the enthusiasm engendered by that has been dissipated.”
He went on: “When it comes to an urgent and topical issue which requires an unequivocal response, such as the academic boycott [of Israel], the tired old mantra is repeated that it is not an organisation with a programme but a collection of individuals. I find that unsatisfactory.”
More than 500 people, including actors Stephen Fry, Zoe Wanamaker and designer Nicole Farhi, signed the group’s launch declaration.
RabbiGoldbergalsosaid:“I’vebecome awarehowlittleintouchwiththeAngloJewish community so many of its [IJV’s] people are, when they make t h e g o o d o l d Board of Deputies the axis of evil.”
He was also c o n c e r n e d a t increasing willingness in some circles to countenance the idea of a binational state rather than a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I think a big worry for Israel is the way a binational state is being floated. For all of us who believe in the right of the Jews to have a state, no matter how critical we are of the Israeli government, this is the thin end of the wedge. More and more academics are taking it up in their ivory towers.”
According to IJV’s website, the group “takes no position on the boycott, and we know that our signatories include those who support it and those who oppose it”.
But it is staging a public meeting in London next week to discuss whether boycotting Israel would help to “end the Occupation” or prove counterproductive.
Among listed speakers are the Israeli anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and now a professor of history at Exeter University, and City University’s Adah Kay, from Ramallah on the West Bank.
Dr Kay was among signatories to a letter from the “Palestinian arts community” to the ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters last year, urging him not to peform in Israel until it ends “its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory”.
Rabbi David Goldberg