JLC man warns of cri­sis if Cor­byn is PM

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE ELEC­TION of Jeremy Cor­byn as Prime Min­is­ter would cre­ate a cri­sis for the Jewish com­mu­nity, Jonathan Gold­stein, the prospec­tive new chair­man of the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil (JLC) be­lieves.

The Labour leader is “hos­tile” to the com­mu­nity and fails to un­der­stand an­ti­semitism, ac­cord­ing to Mr Gold­stein, who was speak­ing at a hus­tings or­gan­ised by the JLC on Mon­day.

“We as a com­mu­nity have been ex­tremely for­tu­nate in hav­ing a suc­ces­sion of prime min­is­ters who have been ex­tremely sup­port­ive of the com­mu­nity — with­out ques­tion,” he said.

“We are now liv­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where we have a leader of the Op­po­si­tion who does not recog­nise an­ti­semitism, does not un­der­stand an­ti­semitism.”

He added: “We are now fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity where we will have our first ever prime min­is­ter who is pos­i­tively hos­tile in one form or other to the Jewish com­mu­nity. I think it is fair to say that should that oc­cur, we would be a com­mu­nity in cri­sis.”

But in the event, he said, the com­mu­nity would “need to en­sure that some­how or other we re­tain links with the Labour party”, adding that “we must not for­get there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of mem­bers of the Labour party who re­main our friends”. In par­tic­u­lar he made ref­er­ence to Lon­don mayor Sadiq Khan, who “only two days ago was the lead speaker… at our Yom Hashoah cer­e­mony”.

Mr Gold­stein, 50, is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of prop­erty in­vest­ment com­pany Cain Hoy and a for­mer vice-chair­man of Jewish Care. He chairs the JLC’s education divi­sion, Part­ner­ships for Jewish Schools, as well as the trust which raises fund for the Chief Rabbi.

Al­though he is the sole can­di­date to suc­ceed Sir Mick Davis next month, his chair­man­ship is still sub­ject to a vote of rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the JLC coun­cil.

“As an Il­ford boy, who lived and stud­ied in Manch­ester, I be­lieve I am able to un­der­stand and rep­re­sent a wide cross­sec­tion of the com­mu­nity,” he said.

In the first hus­tings of its kind or­gan­ised by the JLC, Mr Gold­stein pre­sented a man­i­festo which em­pha­sised in­vest­ment in education, pro­mo­tion of di­ver­sity, cel­e­bra­tion of Is­rael and elim­i­nat­ing waste­ful char­ity ex­pen­di­ture, to an au­di­ence of about 50 board mem­bers of or­gan­i­sa­tions af­fil­i­ated to the JLC.

While his man­i­festo stated that “there has never been a bet­ter time to be Jewish in Bri­tain”, he ob­served in his ad­dress that th­ese were “try­ing and tu­mul­tuous times for our coun­try, for Europe and for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as a whole”.

Pol­i­tics have be­come more po­larised, dem­a­goguery has re­placed dia­logue and ex­tremes are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly the norm, he said.

Call­ing for a JLC-led cel­e­bra­tion of Is­rael’s 70th an­niver­sary next year, he said: “We have to unashamedly ex­press our con­fi­dence and our sup­port of Is­rael as loudly and as of­ten as we can. I think we have to show the BDS [boy­cott] move­ment to be what it is, which is an an­ti­semitic move­ment in an­other guise.”

Fear of be­ing seen to take a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion had re­sulted in an “overly cau­tious” ap­proach on Is­rael, he ar­gued.

Stress­ing the gen­eral need for greater in­vest­ment in Jewish education, he said that Jewish schools should teach mod­ern Jewish and Is­raeli his­tory.

On vis­its to Jewish day schools, the last two Is­raeli am­bas­sadors had told him they were “dis­ap­pointed by the level of knowl­edge our chil­dren have of mod­ern Is­raeli his­tory. They don’t un­der­stand the se­quenc­ing of the wars, they don’t un­der­stand the im­pact of the Six-Day War and the Oc­cu­pa­tion, they don’t know even know about En­tebbe and Le­banon etc,” Mr Gold­stein re­layed.

As for char­ity, Mr Gold­stein said he felt the com­mu­nity’s more than 2,000 or­gan­i­sa­tions were “far too many to sup­port”.

If elected, he promised to set up a com­pre­hen­sive re­view headed by a lead­ing busi­ness fig­ure, which would be charged with find­ing ways of sav­ing £10 mil­lion a year by cut­ting out in­sti­tu­tional du­pli­ca­tion.

“I am not knock­ing any one or­gan­i­sa­tion. I just ques­tion whether we as a com­mu­nity of only 300,000 peo­ple should be work­ing in those si­los as op­posed to work­ing to­gether,” he said.

Be­liev­ing that di­ver­sity is one of the com­mu­nity’s “great­est strengths”, Mr Gold­stein said the JLC should work for equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion within its ranks for women as well as for mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity, while also build­ing bridges with the grow­ing Charedi pop­u­la­tion.

We are fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a prime min­is­ter who is hos­tile to the Jewish com­mu­nity ’

PHOTO: AP

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