Sir Mick quits JLC say­ing com­mu­nal set-up 'not fit for pur­pose'

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

SIR MICK Davis has an­nounced his de­par­ture as chair­man of the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil with a broad at­tack on British Jewry’s com­mu­nal in­fras­truc­ture, de­scrib­ing it as “not fit for pur­pose”.

In a let­ter on Wed­nes­day in­form­ing the coun­cil’s mem­bers of his de­ci­sion not to seek re-elec­tion, Sir Mick crit­i­cised the Board of Deputies and said the community had too many char­i­ties com­pet­ing for limited re­sources.

He will leave in May hav­ing been in the role for eight years and over­seen the sig­nif­i­cant ex­pan­sion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“The time is right to al­low oth­ers with equal pas­sion to take the community for­ward with a fresh vi­sion,” Sir Mick wrote.

Knighted in 2015 for his work on David Cameron’s Holo­caust Com­mis­sion, Sir Mick said the JLC’s 32 mem­ber or­gan­i­sa­tions had achieved “far more than we ever could work­ing alone”.

He said he had pri­ori­tised Jewish ed­u­ca­tion and school­ing, had “re­sponded to the threat of anti-Zion­ist as­saults on Is­rael and our con­nec­tion to it”, tack­led chal­lenges in the wel­fare sys­tem and at­tempted to groom po­ten­tial fu­ture lead­ers.

But he added: “Our com­mu­nal ar­chi­tec­ture is not fit for pur­pose. Too many char­i­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions com­pete in the same space for the same re­source. Ev­ery need must be met but phil­an­thropic lead­ers have a duty to seek out a more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive ap­proach.

“I feel I must note my re­gret that the

Board of Deputies and the JLC could not achieve closer or­gan­i­sa­tional align­ment dur­ing my ten­ure.”

Sir Mick said a blue­print for the two or­gan­i­sa­tions to work to­gether had been out­lined un­der his lead­er­ship, but had been al­lowed to “lie fal­low”. He ac­knowl­edged the cur­rent “pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship” be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive staff at the JLC and the Board, not­ing “when that pre­vails the community pros­pers”.

His lead­er­ship of the coun­cil has not been with­out con­tro­versy. In 2010 Sir Mick pub­licly at­tacked Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu over the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian peace process and called for British Jews to be more crit­i­cal of Is­rael. His com­ments sparked de­bate across di­as­pora com­mu­ni­ties.

There was fur­ther furore three years later when the JLC chair­man claimed Is­rael was not do­ing enough to con­vey a com­mit­ment to peace, adding that di­as­pora ef­forts to fight dele­git­imi­sa­tion of the coun­try were be­ing ham­pered by Mr Ne­tanyahu’s govern­ment.

In 2012, Jonathan Arkush, the then Board vice-pres­i­dent, led the crit­i­cism of the JLC, call­ing it “un­elected, un­ac­count­able and… un­ac­cept­able” be­fore apol­o­gis­ing later.

In his let­ter, Sir Mick wrote: “From its in­cep­tion, the JLC has been ac­cused by some of be­ing non-rep­re­sen­ta­tive. “Iron­i­cally, those who have made the largest fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the community have re­ceived the most abuse. Yet I have never come across a JLC trus­tee who sought sta­tus from their po­si­tion; rather they have brought their stature to ben­e­fit the work of the JLC and its mem­bers and contributed might­ily to UK Jewry.” Si­mon John­son, JLC chief ex­ec­u­tive, said he had been “in­spired” by Sir Mick’s “strate­gic thought, gen­eros­ity, vi­sion and pas­sion for the community”. Chief Rabbi Ephraim (fourth right) leads a JLC del­e­ga­tion to meet David Cameron at Num­ber 10

Mirvis said: “Since ar­riv­ing to these shores, he has re­lent­lessly and gen­er­ously com­mit­ted him­self to the bet­ter­ment of Jewish life here in the UK, in Is­rael and be­yond.

“I have per­son­ally cher­ished his friend­ship and wise coun­sel and I have no doubt that he will con­tinue to play a most valu­able role in the fu­ture of the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Laura Jan­ner-Klaus­ner, Re­form Ju­daism’s Se­nior Rabbi, said the community had been “trans­formed” un­der his lead­er­ship.

Nom­i­na­tions for the next chair close on April 5, with Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the JLC’s ed­u­ca­tion divi­sion and in­vest­ment com­pany chief ex­ec­u­tive, a pos­si­ble fron­trun­ner. Mr Arkush, now Board pres­i­dent, has ruled him­self out.

PHOTO: PA PHOTO: PA

Mick Davis

Sir Mick Davis

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