Trouble at t’mill

An almighty spat has arisen at the top of the communal tree. Robert Halfon and the Board of Deputies have been at daggers drawn, and although they are now rumoured to have made it up, others are stirring the pot.

Robert Halfon is a high-flying Tory Jewish MP. His idea of the Board of Deputies becoming a “political broadcasting service” for the Labour Party is so off-the-wall, we wondered at first if the Jewish Chronicle was running a belated April Fool story.

While he and the BoD seem to have made an uneasy truce, some of his followers are not so easily bought off,  and the Board has labelled some 20 anonymous supporters of Halfon as “cowardly”!

Read the Jewish News report below, as well as extracts from the JC’s.

Robert Halfon MP. Photo: Wikipedia

Board brands 20 anonymous deputies ‘cowardly’ over support for Halfon criticism

Communal organisation hits out at unnamed representatives who said they were ‘uniformly troubled’ by the Board allegedly ‘pursuing a left of centre political agenda’

Jewish News Reporter April 27, 2020

The bitter row between the Board of Deputies and Conservative MP Rob Halfon took another ugly turn today, with the Board accusing 20 of its own deputies of hiding behind a “cowardly cloak of anonymity” in supporting Halfon’s attack on the Jewish umbrella organisation.

A letter published by the Jewish Chronicle quotes the signatories as being “uniformly troubled” that the Board is “intent on pursuing a left of centre political agenda and has a partisan bias.”

This follows Robert Halfon’s claim that the Board has become a “political broadcasting service” for Labour.

Board president Marie van der Zyl hit back at Halfon, questioning his “courage and integrity”. The two partiers then cleared the air on Monday in a joint statement, saying: “We deeply regret this weekend’s exchange. Going forward, we will endeavour to share any concerns in private first.”

However, the row escalated again hours later when the Board criticised the Jewish Chronicle for refusing to reveal the signatories of the letter supporting Halfon’s view.

A spokesperson said: “Having tried to pressure the Board of Deputies’ staff to make a comment about a disagreement shortly before Shabbat the Jewish Chronicle has now asked the Board  to comment on an allegedly critical letter whose contents the JC refused to share with us and whose purported signatories hide behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity.

“This is despite the fact that Mr Halfon and the Board of Deputies President have now made amends and agreed to move on constructively. It is disappointing that while the key protagonists are moving forward, the JC seems determined to stir communal discord. We hope that the new owners of the Jewish Chronicle will get a grip on this sort of thing, which risks damaging the reputation of this 179-year old institution.


And here are some extracts ftom the Jewish Chronicle report the previous day

Senior Conservative MP attacks Board of Deputies’s ‘left of centre political agenda’

Billed as an Exclusive, its standfirst reads:

Robert Halfon says Board no longer represents Conservatives – spokesman calls his remarks ‘ignorant…disingenuous and outright false’

Robert  Halfon – Chair of the Education Select Committee and a former Minister without Portfolio under Theresa May – said that in its most recent weekly email update on its activities the Board had failed to reflect any of the Passover messages sent to the community by senior figures within his party, or even to wish Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “good recovery”.

The Harlow MP told the JC he believed the Board needed “radical reform” and suggested it no longer represented Conservatives such as himself who worked “day and night for the Jewish community”.

According to the Report Halfon was put out by the contents of the latest Community Briefing from the Bod, saying “It seems astonishing that the Board of Deputies’s briefing for MPs reads like a political broadcasting service for shadow opposition figures.

“It could not even find the opportunity to wish the Prime Minister Boris Johnson a good recovery – or mention the Passover messages by senior Conservative leaders to the Jewish community.

“And there were just two lines on the meeting the Board had with the new chair of the Conservative Party Amanda Milling and they were critical.”

He added: “The Board of Deputies clearly needs radical reform because it seems to be intent on pursuing a left of centre political agenda and no longer wants to represent Conservatives in a positive light.”

The Board of Deputies responded furiously to Mr Halfon’s remarks.

A spokesman said:  “JLC Vice President Robert Halfon has let himself down with these comments, which range from the surprisingly ignorant to disingenuous and outright false.”

Read the full JC report here.

Comments (5)

  • RH says:

    Well – we already knew that the right wing pro-Israel Lobby had a barminess all of its own. Just another example.

  • Benny Ross says:

    They are quick and decisive in rebutting lies that others tell about them. If only they were as conscientious about pointing to the evidence — or pointing out the lack of evidence — when the lies concern reputedly left-wing public figures!

  • John Bowley says:

    What a bunch of proverbials. Who lord it over Labour. Our leader, Sir Keir, really ought to re-consider his submission to the BoD’s ten commandments.

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    Marie van der Zyl says Board of Deputies will never apologise for advocating for ALL Jews:
    https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/board-of-deputies-will-never-apologise-for-advocating-for-all-jews/
    How she can say this with a straight face beggars belief.
    Halfon implies that just because the BOD dod not commiserate with Boris when he was ill, they become a far-left party! How balmier can one get?

  • Tricia McLaughlin says:

    John Bowley, you have absolutely no chance of that. Read the full report. Starmer’s front bench has turned over to have its tummy tickled by the BoD!

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