JLC man warns of crisis if Corbyn is PM
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 ’