Board halts ties with European Jewish Congress after ‘failure over sex abuse claims’
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Board halts ties with European Jewish Congress after ‘failure over sex abuse claims’

Decision to suspend ties with one of Europe's main Jewish organisations linked to handling of claims against a senior official, sources say.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies

The Board of Deputies has “suspended all activities” with one of Europe’s main Jewish organisations over “concerns” it failed to respond to shocking allegations made against a senior member.

In a statement the UK communal organisation confirmed said it “has suspended all activities with the European Jewish Congress (EJC) due to concerns about how the Congress is handling misconduct complaints.”

While the statement failed to elaborate on the “misconduct complaints” referred to, multiple sources confirmed to Jewish News that they centre around sexual abuse allegations relating to a senior figure within the EJC.

Jerusalem Post also reported earlier this month that the Board had suspended relations with the EJC “due to sexual abuse allegations”.

Another highly-regarded European Jewish organisation confirmed in a statement to Jewish News it had conducted an investigation into the claims. It had also spoken to a number of people who claimed to have been victims.

The statement, which named the individual at the centre of the claims, said he had subsequently “resigned” from the organisation, which claimed to have then taken “appropriate action working with relevant authorities and the local community.”

The investigation into the claims was conducted in 2019, but it is understood other alleged victims have continued to come forward to make further claims.

Concerns about the individual’s conduct were then passed on to other leading Jewish organisations, including the EJC, where the person at the centre of the claims continued to hold a senior role.

Jerusalem Post also reported this month that a source “familiar with the EJC” said: “There is a failure of EJC to take action, such as instigating an investigation or to seek to put safeguards around this leader’s activities in relation to ongoing humanitarian work, such as exposure to vulnerable young women, etc.”

Jewish News understands alleged victims were encouraged to go to police with their accounts but were not keen to do so, fearing repercussions.

In a statement, the EJC said they “deeply regret the decision of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to end its activities as an affiliate and completely rejects claims that it has mishandled alleged complaints.”

It added: “The EJC views very seriously any breaches of ethical conduct and will always act immediately to maintain the highest standards of any of its associates.

“We will not be commenting further on this issue at the current time in order not to prejudice the outcome of any independent investigation.”

Jewish News has contacted the person at the centre of the allegations for comment, but they did not respond to the message, despite it being shown to have read it on WhatsApp.

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