The chair of the Football Association’s Faith in Football group, Rabbi Alex Goldberg, has resigned and has told the FA that the group will no longer continue to work with it, in protest at the FA’s stance over honouring the victims of the Hamas attack on Israel.
In an impassioned letter to the chief executive of the FA, Mark Bullingham, Rabbi Goldberg said he was “profoundly disappointed in the FA’s decision not to have a specific tribute during the upcoming matches against Australia and Italy at Wembley Stadium, to the victims of the worst single atrocity committed against Jewish targets since the Shoah”.
Rabbi Goldberg, who has worked with the FA for 16 years, told Mark Bullingham that “it’s imperative that our responses and actions, especially in international platforms like those at Wembley Stadium, are unequivocal in their support for the victims of such atrocities.
“Your formula looks like a form of moral equivalence, which is just not appropriate this week. The decision not to light up the [Wembley] arch has been received badly tonight within the community, where attacks on Jews in England have already gone up three-fold. Many see the statement —only to permit flags and representations of the competing nations — as eradicating Jewish symbols and it has compounded grievances with the gravity of the recent events — but also inadvertently neglects the security and emotional well-being of Jewish fans who may be in attendance”.
The rabbi, who told the FA he was also writing “as a rabbi, as a father of children living in Israel”, said that the FA’s decision not to mark the murders more specifically had been made “in light of the global solidarity shown in response to the tragic murder of 1,000 civilians in Israel, encompassing all ages and walks of life —including 17 British citizens — that saw Downing Street, the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building lit up in blue and white”.
Rabbi Goldberg said he was breaking the formal link between the Faith in Football group and the FA, but would “continue to service the football family, through the Premier League and Football League clubs that we currently support at an elite level and the grassroots game as Faith in Football”. He told Jewish News that he was leaving “with huge regret in my heart”, but pledged to go on with his work in “creating programmes for schools, bringing faith communities into the football family and developing frameworks to advise county FA’s leagues and clubs on best practice”.
Rabbi Goldberg added that “planned gestures of wearing black armbands and observing a moment of silence are respectful; however, they may not fully convey the depth of solidarity and support necessary for the communities affected, both directly and indirectly, by these atrocious acts of violence, nor help give reassurance to Jews being attacked in this country now”.
The rabbi said he “strongly urged a reassessment of the FA’s stance on this matter”. He added that he was “disappointed” not to have been consulted on a planned “downsizing” of a Chanukah party due to take place at Wembley.
A copy of the rabbi’s protest has gone to Lucy Frazer, the government’s sport and culture secretary.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.