Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl has condemned the failure of JNF UK chair Samuel Hayek to “retract or apologise” for anti-Muslim comments he made nearly a month ago in an interview last month with Jewish News.
Confirming that the Israel charity had now been sent a letter of censure after Deputies voted by a “large majority” in favour of a motion calling for such action at last week’s plenary, the Board’s President also noted it was “regrettable” JNF UK’s trustees also “have not been explicit in your condemnation of his comments”.
She added: “When you are unable to reject explicitly, anti-Muslim bigotry, it undermines attempts to draw attention to, and combat, antisemitism from extremists in the Muslim community.
“Furthermore, the sweeping statement about the future of Jewish life in the UK is deeply insulting to the many thousands of activists and leaders whose ceaseless work has made our community a beacon of excellence in the Jewish Diaspora.”
The Board’s President said that JNF UK “has a proud tradition in our community and its contribution to Israel is well documented.”
She said the Board would “look forward to the day when you address seriously the matters raised”.
The damning letter was sent to Trustees Hayek, Gideon Falter, Dr Alan Mendoza, Gary Mond, David Berens, Laurence Julius, Timothy Kendal, Murray Lee, Belinda Oakland Mandi (Marilyn) Waisman and Howard Wayne.
It confirmed a resolution, proposed by UJS deputy Joel Rosen, had been passed
after debate at the January 23 plenary by 133 votes to 75.
The resolution had stated: “The Board of Deputies hereby censures the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK) for failing to disavow the inflammatory and bigoted remarks of its Chair Samuel Hayek.”
It noted how after speaking to the Jerusalem Post last month, Hayek told Jewish News British Jews were threatened by Muslim immigration.
He claimed that “in Islam, there is not a term for ‘peace’” and that Muslim immigrants “don’t speak English, they create their own ghettos, their own education, their own process of thinking.”
In a later article for the Jewish Chronicle seeking to clarify his views, Hayek insisted he was not a bigot and said opinion polling suggested the majority of British Muslims do not hold extremist views. But he said a sizeable minority do hold views about Jewish influence that, if not sufficiently addressed, would mean “little to no safe future” for the community in Britain.
A JNF UK spokesperson said “We note that Samuel Hayek has clarified his remarks in a detailed article in the Jewish Chronicle, which those interested in his views would do well to read. As we have repeatedly made clear, Mr Hayek was not speaking for the charity or its trustees.”
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