‘Attacks are like Lee Rigby killing 30 times over’
Chief Rabbi and Board leader say stabbings are as appalling as the murder of off-duty soldier in London
BOARD OF Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has asked the Foreign Secretary to curtail Palestinian diplomatic privileges if they do not condemn violence against Israelis.
Mr Arkush said he had written to Philip Hammond in the wake of the attacks in which seven Israelis have been killed.
Speaking at the Board’s monthly meeting, he said he had asked Mr Hammond “to call on the head of the Pal- estinian Mission in London and bring home to them the dismay felt by the citizens of the UK at the blatant incitement and racist talk from some in the Palestinian Authority.
“I’ve asked him to say that if their conduct is not improved some diplomatic steps should be taken, such as downgrading their status.”
Mr Arkush pleaded with the British people and media to recognise the realities of the situation in Israel. He said: “The attacks have been shocking to all of us.
“The sight of people, sometimes teenagers, brandishing knives and meat cleavers, Jonathan Arkush hacking at people with blades, should shock everyone just as it shocked this country when off-duty British soldier, Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by extremists on the streets of Woolwich in 2013. “That was one attack; there have been 30 in Israel.”
Also at the Board meeting, former treasurer Laurence Brass condemned the Board for supporting last week’s Zionist Federation’s # I s r a e - liLivesMatter protest o u t s i d e t he Pal - estinian Mission, which he called “hare-brained” and “ill-conceived”. He said the hashtag used to promote the rally was “deeply offensive to those of us who weep at the loss of any life in the region”.
Mr Brass argued that Palestinians were not the only ones to blame for the ongoing violence, criticising Mr Arkush for a “grovelling, sycophantic” speech to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu instead of challenging the leader over Israeli settlements when he visited Britain earlier this year.
The Board president defended the protest and the hashtag, telling deputies: “I hope everyone remembers that all lives matter. I deeply deplore the loss of all lives.But we must as a Jewish community look at the context under which these attacks happened.”
He reiterated his desire to meet the director-general of the BBC to discuss the corporation’s coverage of the crisis. He also promised to write to Sky News “to convey the feelings of the community to them over their reporting”.
Mr Arkush welcomed the intervention of Conservative Friends of Israel chairman, Sir Eric Pickles, who had accused the Foreign Office of “turning a blind eye” to Palestinian incitement of the attacks.
The former cabinet minister said Palestinian society had been “harmed by a widespread culture of hate” and “glorification of terror and violence against Jews and Israel”.
Writing for the Conservative Home website, Sir Eric said David Cameron had been unequivocal in his condemnation of incitement and violence.
But he added: “Our Prime Minister’s clear message somehow seems to have become lost in translation in the bowels of the Foreign Office, which has an almost pathological desire to appear balanced whatever the cost.”
Department for International Development aid should be withdrawn if the Palestinian Authority did not stop encouraging violence, he said. Lord Grade said BBC’s coverage was misleading
Sir Eric was one of 200 people who attended a special prayer service in memory of those killed in the terror attacks and violence in Israel.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led the service in Hendon, north-west London, on Sunday evening amid tight security.
He told the audience the knife attacks in Israel were comparable to the murder of Lee Rigby.
Heextendedthecommunity’sthanks to David Cameron and the government for dealing with Israel “in a fair manner” and for protecting British Jews.
It was essential for a negotiated settlement to be made in the Middle East to achieve peace, the Chief Rabbi said, during an emotional address.
Hecitedthecaseof Magen David Adom paramedic Ilan Klein who has saved a number of Israeli lives and also saved a Palestinian terrorist who was shot after carrying out a knife attack.
“That’s the Jewish way, that’s the Israeli way,” Rabbi Mirvis said.
Meanwhile, former BBC chairman Lord Grade has criticised the corporation’s reporting of the crisis. He wrote to the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, James Harding, to say coverage had at times been misleading and failed to give context to what he called an “undoubtedly complex issue”.
Lord Grade, the nephew of the late Jewish showbusiness impresario Lew Grade, said the BBC had failed to “fulfil its obligation to viewers” by not showing Palestinian Authority officials praising the attacks.
His complaint was prompted by a broadcast by correspondent Orla Guerin. He said her report had implied “equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks”.
It is believed that the BBC h a s n o t responded.
‘The sight of people brandising knives and meat cleavers is shocking’