Lead­ers should lead

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

This week’s front-page story is not some­thing we ever thought would be pub­lished. The poll is not sci­en­tific; we sim­ply ap­proached 150 peo­ple ran­domly in the street. But it ac­cu­rately re­flects the over­whelm­ing anec­do­tal ev­i­dence of re­cent weeks. Em­phat­i­cally, that does not mean that 63 per cent of us are pre­par­ing to leave. But it is deeply shock­ing that the stench of an­ti­semitism is now so pun­gent that so many in our com­mu­nity feel the ques­tion has to be asked. No won­der, when the govern­ment it­self in­cludes a party that re­fuses to take ac­tion against an MP who writes, ‘If I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? — prob­a­bly yes’, and has a Busi­ness Sec­re­tary who will im­pose an arms em­bargo on Is­rael should Ha­mas at­tack it. That con­junc­tion leaves no am­bi­gu­ity about the LibDem view. But there is another feel­ing also cur­rent: of dis­sat­is­fac­tion, to put it mildly, with our com­mu­nal lead­ers.

Where is the lead­er­ship? Where is the vigour? Where are the ideas? Last week, we re­vealed that some of our so-called lead­ers were re­fus­ing to make any pub­lic crit­i­cism of the Tri­cy­cle Theatre. The re­sponse is that our re­port was mis­lead­ing be­cause, in pri­vate, they were in­deed an­gry. But that sim­ply proves the point. They may well have worked hard be­hind the scenes to try to stop the theatre’s boy­cott. But the time for be­hind-closed-doors-whis­per-whis­per­let-your-el­ders-and-bet­ters-sort-things-out machi­na­tions has long gone. It is sim­ply not good enough for the Board to sug­gest that let­ter-writ­ing, a few press state­ments and some se­cret meet­ings are the best they can come up with. When 63 per cent of a ran­dom sam­ple of Bri­tish Jews say they have thought se­ri­ously about whether there is a fu­ture for them here, lead­ers who pick up the phone to their con­tacts and hold be­hind-closed-doors meet­ings are an ir­rel­e­vance. We need lead­ers who lead — and who speak not just for the com­mu­nity but to it.

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