by Martin Odoni

My resentment of ‘Jewish representative bodies,’ especially the Board of Deputies, has several roots, not least their deceitfulness, and their manipulation of popular guilt about the history of anti-Semitism. One could even call these bodies ‘treasonous’ in that they clearly manipulate this country in service of another. Yes, Israel. Sorry, Zionists, keep calling me names all you want, I shall not stop saying it.

The Body that encourages ‘Chosen Race’ stereotypes

What really aggravates me is that the BoD scream out about anti-Semitism, and the supposed widespread belief in ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ (often left vaguely-defined) among the population, while behaving in a manner that tends to reinforce them. In particular, there is the unrestrained arrogance with which the BoD makes demands and leaves no room or patience for any discussion of them. If ever an attitude would encourage the anti-Semitic caricature of Jews-who-think-they’re-the-Chosen-Race, it will be that. And of course, that re-fuelled caricature bounces back, not just on the BoD, but on all Jews including myself.

That is made particularly difficult to push back against, because the BoD always claims to be speaking and acting in the name of all Jewish Britons. Rather like the Israeli Government itself always claims to be speaking and acting in the name of all Jews globally. Both equally untrue.

Debunking the Board

So let us make abundantly clear, once and for all; –

The Board of Deputies does not represent all British Jews. Very tentatively, it could be argued they represent about thirty per cent of British Jews. This is because the Board is appointed by affiliated Synagogues only. A lot of Jewish ‘sub-communities’ (for want of a better term) do not affiliate to the BoD at all, including almost all of Britain’s sizeable and fast-growing Charedi Orthodox community.

And then of course there are secular-non-practicing Jews like me. We attend no Synagogue, because we have no religious beliefs to practice, but we are still vulnerable to anti-Semitic hostility and still share some interests with our religious counterparts. There are quite a lot of us too, but because we do not worship, the BoD feel no obligation to consult us before they arrive at their chosen ‘policy.’ That would actually be fine with me more or less, except they still claim to represent us without ever asking us what we are thinking.

Embassy politics

This is one of those times when that representation-without-consultation becomes a serious issue, at least for me. The BoD are currently expressing support for the enormously provocative suggestion that Britain should move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In itself, this would be a grossly offensive move, effectively declaring British support for Israel’s domination of all Palestine, and the final dislocation of the Palestinian people from the last remnants of their homeland. At best, it will lead to the sordid-but-peaceful final death of Palestine, at worst the extremely-violent-and-bloody final death of Palestine as Israel’s remaining Arab population rise up in futile rebellion.

I am completely, unhesitatingly against moving the British embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Voice of Israel, not Jews, in the UK

But what is worse than the BoD’s support for such a move, what is completely intolerable about that support, is that “Her Majesty the President of the Board,” Marie van der Zyl, declared British Jews to be “in favour” without any notice, warning or prior consultation. How does she even know that British Jews are in favour of such an act of provocation? Never mind asking who gave her permission to declare it.

Van der Zyl, winner of The United Kingdom’s Most Over-Entitled Human Being Award for the fourth year running, checked with nobody, never mind any other Jews, before announcing Jewish enthusiasm at a dinner held by the Conservative Friends Of Israel at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham this week.

Unaccountable BoD behaviour

This is much in-keeping with van der Zyl’s general conduct as President since she took over from Jonathan Arkush in 2018, and indeed very much in-keeping with Arkush’s own high-handedness before her. Declare policy, and leave the people they represent out of the discussion entirely.

Despite trying to maintain an illusion of democracy, the BoD does not truly function as one at all. In that respect, it sounds a little like a microcosm of Israel itself. It has much co-operation from senior figures at local Synagogues, but for the most part, the BoD is a self-appointed oligarchy saying and doing and demanding whatever Zionist whim asks of it, and doing so by a strange twist on ‘Divine Right’ over other Jews. It really fancies itself as a kind of Anglo-Jewish aristocracy, and the President, as I implied earlier, sees herself as ‘The Queen of the Jews.’ A female British Jesus almost.

And like the Messiah, she insists all Jews agree her every declaration, consultation unnecessary. No deviation of opinion will be entertained. So much for “Two-Jews-three-opinions,” Her Majesty will voice only one. And that one – what luck!!! – always ‘just happens’ to be what the Government of Israel wants. While its sidelining and marginalising of Jewish dissenters in the UK is so oppressive it is almost a form of anti-Semitism.

Re-declaration

This is not a call for a crucifixion, before anyone gets ideas about words to put in my mouth, but merely a re-declaration, with a consequent implication.

The re-declaration is that these pompous, self-appointed “aristocrats” do not represent me. They do not speak for me. They do not even speak for the people they do sort-of represent, because there is no mechanism to enforce consultation of them.

The implication is that, logically, the Government, the media, academics, and other authorities need to stop treating the BoD as a reliable source for Anglo-Jewish thinking. Like I said above, with two Jews usually producing the figurative three opinions, ‘Jewish thinking’ is always much more complex and vastly more plural than the pseudo-aristocrats of the BoD will ever admit.