JVL Introduction

Robert A.H.Cohen asks Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, some interesting questions.

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IN A CRITICAL WEEK FOR LABOUR AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN BRITAIN, HERE’S MY TEN QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DEPUTIES – MARIE VAN DER ZYL

1. Why are you ignoring the Jewish academic experts, notably: David Feldman Director of the the Pears Institute for the study of antisemitism; Dr. Brian Klug of Oxford University; and Tony Lerman, the former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, who have all made critical studies of the IHRA document and found it inadequate and unhelpful in numerous ways?

2. Why are you ignoring the concerns expressed by the author of the IHRA definition and its illustrations, Kenneth Stern, who has said the document is already being used around the world to chill free speech?

3. Why are you ignoring the legal opinions of the document provided by Sir Stephen Sedley, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Geoffrey Robertson QC who have drawn out its failings in detail?

4. Why do you defend Jewish rights to determine antisemitism but support a document which will deny the Palestinian people their right to define their experience of racism caused by Zionism?

5. Can you explain why you think that Israel’s 51 year occupation of the West Bank does not meet the international definition of Apartheid?

6. Will you acknowledge the findings of the 2016 Home Affairs Select Committee report on antisemitism which noted that “there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party”?

7. Are you able to provide evidence that antisemitism is “rife” among the Labour Party’s half a million members?

8. Can you explain why the Board chose to pursue its campaign against the Labour Party only after Jeremy Corbyn became its leader and despite recorded incidents of antisemitism within the Party falling over the last three years?

9. Are you at all concerned that the Board’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn is creating an environment of fear within the Jewish community in Britain which is unjustified and disproportionate?

10. Having stated your commitment “to being a leader for the entire community” when do you plan to meet formally with Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewdas, Jewish Voice for Labour, or Na’amod – British Jews Against the Occupation?