The chairman of one the UK’s top Jewish charities provoked dismay among community leaders this week after claiming immigration into this country would leave Jews with “no future in England”.
Asked about comments made to an Israeli newspaper earlier this month in which he predicted a gloomy future for UK Jewry, Jewish National Fund UK chairman Samuel Hayek told Jewish News:
“The process is that maybe in 10 years, maybe less, who knows, Jews will not be able to live in the UK. I don’t think anybody can stop it.”
Pressed on what evidence there was to support his claim, Hayek added: “The evidence is the number of immigrants to England. The demographic of British society is changing. Historical events sometimes take long to identify. It is clear England is changing.
“If you look at France, with numbers, nobody would have believed 20 years ago the state of the Jewish community as it is today.”
Asked whether he was referring specifically to issues around Muslim immigration, Hayek said: ”You are not wrong.”
Jonathan Goldstein, the out-going chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, reacted furiously to Hayek’s comments labeling them “simplistic and reckless.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “We condemn adverse remarks about Muslim immigration and Muslim communities.”
Community Security Trust chief executive Mark Gardner insisted the outspoken businessman had managed to “completely misunderstand” British Jewry.
Hayek, 68, who has homes in the UK and Israel, said his grim vision is based on a “changing demographic of society in England” as a result of immigration into the country, particularly by Muslims.
Hayek also said the defeat at the last election of the Jeremy Cobyn-led Labour Party had not eradicated what he claimed was the threat to communal life in this country.
The chair of the KKL Charitable Trust, a close ally of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who helped negotiate terms for the current coalition government, also took a swipe at communal leadership in the UK, referencing the 2018 Enough Is Enough demonstration outside Parliament, organised by the JLC, the Board, and other groups.
He said: “What does it say about communal leaders if the highlight of their term is that they organised a demonstration. Is that it? Leadership is not a word that is empty of action. Leadership is being involved with your people all of the time.”
Hayek’s dismal assessment was firmly criticised by the officials at the Community Security Trust, Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies.
Earlier this month in interview with the Jerusalem Post he had first made his claim that “Jews have no future in England.”
Mark Gardiner, the CST’s chief executive, said: “People who say British Jews have no future in this country completely misunderstand what we are about.
“All of CST’s work, from our trustees, staff and volunteers is to ensure a proud, confident and safe Jewish life in this country.
“This is why we have invested millions of pounds in our community’s security and it is why so many antisemites have ended up in prison after CST reported them to police. We have allies and supporters across British society and from all communities and we are not going anywhere.”
JLC chair Goldstein said: “Since Oliver Cromwell readmitted Jews to Britain in 1656 we have by and large had a good life in this country.
“For a Jewish leader to say that we are entering the final period of Jewish life here is simplistic and reckless. Antisemitism has existed for thousands of years and has morphed throughout.
What does it say about communal leaders if the highlight of their term is that they organised a demonstration. Is that it? Leadership is not a word that is empty of action. Leadership is being involved with your people all of the time.
“We have been living in a golden age of Jewish life where the Jewish state flourishes and diaspora communities have undergone a renaissance, whether that be through the huge increase in Jewish school demand or our flourishing cultural scene.
“When we were faced with political danger in Jeremy Corbyn and the antisemites behind him we collectively stood up and faced down that problem, and won.
“This demonstrated our confidence and security within the UK and we discovered many allies across British society.
“There will continue to be challenges and threats to our peaceful existence but I am confident in the leadership across our community and the innate decency of the British people that these can be overcome.”
For a Jewish leader to say that we are entering the final period of Jewish life here is simplistic and reckless.
The Board’s president said: “The Board of Deputies firmly believes that the British Jewish community has a strong future in this country, and that those who say otherwise do a serious disservice to the UK, which resoundingly rejected Corbynism two years ago.
“The efforts of Jewish communal organisations in this country to ensure that our community continues to thrive are manifold, and are certainly not restricted to rallies outside Parliament.
“We condemn adverse remarks about Muslim immigration and Muslim communities. This year, thousands of people from our community contributed to collections to help Afghan refugees who had fled to this country. We believe that this is far more indicative of the attitude of British Jews.”
Hayek’s JNF UK organisation prides itself on being Britain’s oldest Israel charity “working to ensure that the people of Israel who live in the underdeveloped south of the country can also share in the Jewish State’s success story.”
The group’s vice-chairman, the Henry Jackson Society’s Dr Alan Mendoza, and Campaign Against Antisemitism chief executive Gideon Falter, are leading figures in UK communal life.
We condemn adverse remarks about Muslim immigration and Muslim communities. This year, thousands of people from our community contributed to collections to help Afghan refugees ..We believe that this is far more indicative of the attitude of British Jews
The Iraqi-born millionaire said the “sad conclusion” of Muslim immigration to the UK, France and to Germany was over a failure in integration with wider society. He insisted: “Our problem in the West is that we do not understand Islam. In Islam there is not a term for ‘peace’.”
Hayek also claimed that many Muslim immigrants arriving in the UK “don’t speak English, they create their own ghettos, their own education, their own process of thinking.”
When challenged that his remarks about Muslims were the same insults dished out to Jewish immigrants, Hayek said: “The Jews don’t want to kill anybody, or kill Christians because Christianity creates infidels. Or immigration from Poland. The Polish people come to England, they want to work, to develop. It is not the same when you have immigration that is motivated and guided by the rules of Islam.”
In further hugely controversial remarks he said: “It was a process, the process is the white Christian majority is shrinking. It shrinks to a degree where there is a point it cannot protect itself anymore. “
Hayek accepted there had always been an issue with antisemitism amongst the far-right, but suggested Jews had “learned to live” with such a threat.
Hayek, whose JNF UK organisation is also represented on the Board of Deputies by honorary officer Gary Mond, said he had hoped the British government would have taken “steps to protect its society and I hope that they do.”
It was a process, the process is the white Christian majority is shrinking. It shrinks to a degree where there is a point it cannot protect itself anymore
He denied wanting to frighten UK Jews into making new lives in Israel saying: “I want to encourage those who want to continue to live in England – why should I want to frighten them to leave?
I think everybody should make their choice. If they want to live in England, then do so, I just want them to be told the truth.”
The former chairman of the Likud youth department was also deeply critical of communal leadership in the UK, but he suggested this was in fact part of a wider failure to protect Jews living in Europe and in America.
“Where was the leadership when we were expecting and were all frightened that Corbyn was going to win in 2019,” he said. “We should have been facing up to the problems of what to do if Corbyn won.
“Let’s be prepared for that problem. I’m not saying you have to do it, but what if you wanted to sell your house, or your business. You may not have time to do so. What if one thousand people in north west London all wanted to sell their homes? They needed time to do this.”
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