Desmond urges leaders to step forward and lead
THE LEADING figures of one of Britain’s biggest Jewish charities have criticised the response of communal leaders to the Gaza crisis.
In a letter published in today’s JC, Norwood president Richard Desmond and vice-president Ronnie Harris call on senior figures including Peers and rabbis to “lead from the front”.
They said they felt forced to speak out after anti-Israel posters were stuck on the window of a Norwood shop in London earlier this month.
Mr Desmond and Mr Harris write: “We ask where is our leadership, our esteemed knights and peers and our rabbinates, as it is their voices we wish to hear… in the main they have been silent.
“We ask you all to surface and come to the front and lead, as that is what is needed right now.”
The Norwood leaders highlighted speeches made
Richard Desmond ( and Ronnie Harris
by the Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, and Israeli politician Yair Lapid as examples of high-profile efforts to combat antisemitism.
Speaking to the JC, Mr Harris said he was not critical of individuals or specific groups, but felt that the community as a whole must do more.
“Everyone is well meaning. There are lots of views you can have, we just need more presence — dare I say it, subtle PR,” he said.
“We are fighting a war against terrorists. The comparison of Hamas and Isis does not come across. We have to start talking and put that across. All rabbis have to speak about it.”
Rising anger has been directed at communal groups and leaders by British Jews in the past month. A town hall meeting a fortnight ago was repeatedly disrupted by hecklers shouting at the chief executives of the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, Bicom, Community Security Trust and UJIA.