No one is talking about merger now
NEARLY TWO and a half years ago the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council announced plans to explore the possibility of uniting in a single, representative body. Now one may well ask: “Merger? What merger?”
Although the JLC’s latest accounts claim that in 2014 the two organisations have worked together “much more closely”, both now seem intent on ploughing their own furrow. The committee set up for further liaison has not met since Jonathan Arkush was elected president of the Board in May. As a halfway house, it had been suggested that the Board and the JLC share offices. But when the Board and the UJIA, which have cohabited for the past year, move into their new premises next week, the JLC will not be moving in with them. Indeed a proposal to create a communal hub which might include other organisations such as Bicom as well seems dead in the water.
Money talks. Led by powerful donors such as Sir Mick Davis and Leo Noe, the JLC can muster far greater financial firepower than the Board and it is contemplating even further expansion. It has plans to establish a network of half a dozen regional Israel fieldworkers and is recruiting an executive on a reputed six-figure salary to head a new public afffairs directorate.
While the Board may have assets of nearly £5 million, swelled by the sale of its central London headquarters, its other income fell last year. Mr Arkush does not want to pick a fight in public with the JLC, although he did comment earlier this year that if the JLC had money to spend, it should be directed “to the organisations already carrying out the work like the Board rather than risk duplication”.
Inaninterviewwiththe JC inthe summer,hesaid:“Idon’tthinkitmake sensetohavetwopublicaffairsbodies.”
Privately some senior Jewish charity figures have spoken of their frustration at the lack of progress towards merger. After all, one of the JLC’s stated goals is to improve the effectiveness of communal services by identifying “gaps…overlap or duplication”.
JLC chief Sir Mick Davis