JLC chair Black says role of his organisation is to ‘avoid politicisation’

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JLC chair Black says role of his organisation is to ‘avoid politicisation’

Keith Black tells MPs, peers, and communal leaders at the JLC Members’ Summer Afternoon Tea , of his determination 'we do not fall victim to the scolding group-think of identity politics'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keith Black, JLC chair speaks
Keith Black, JLC chair speaks

Jewish Leadership Council chair Keith Black has said the role of his organisation is to “avoid politicisation” and the “scolding group-think of identity politics.”

Addressing a gathering of MPs, peers, and communal leaders who attended the JLC Members’ Summer Afternoon Tea in the House of Commons, Black said the Jewish community felt “blessed” to reside in a country that “looks after us and our needs” and which “welcomes our engagement in public life” and “respects our ancient traditions.”

He then added: “Our role at the JLC is to help manage these relationships to enable collaboration and coordination to provide open channels of communication and to avoid politicisation to ensure that we do not fall victim to the scolding group-think of identity politics.”

Black told guests, who had assembled on the Commons Terrace, of the extensive work carried out by JLC members, who he said were the “central nervous system” of the British Jewish community.

He added:”Our community is imbued with a sense of active citizenship… we do not sit back and simply expect to be looked after. We take pride in our own responsibility to look after each other beyond the responsibility of the state.”

Black, who took over from Jonathan Goldstein at the helm of the JLC at the start of the year, also thanked both Minister for Refugees Lord Harrington, and Conservative MP Nicola Richards for their own speeches at Monday afternoon’s event.

Richards, the MP for West Bromwich East, recalled her time working for the JLC herself, before beginning her career in Westminster.

She praised the “strength of the community” in areas such as providing security for itself through organisations such as the Community Security Trust.

Richard said she had always “felt so welcome in the community” despite not being Jewish herself.

Nicola Richards MP speaks at the JLC Members Summer Tea

In his speech Lord Harrington, who spoke to Jewish News last week, restated how his Jewish background made him naturally drawn to the job overseeing the government’s efforts with Ukrainian refugees.

He said that “faith groups” such as those of Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian communities in the UK were part of the government’s “second phase” in attempting to settle refugees into this country.

Lord Harrington said “the difference” between his previous experience helping with Syrian refugees into this country, and now with Ukrainians was that the former wished to get as far away from the Middle East as possible.

Most Ukrainians, said the minister, wanted to eventually return to their homes, once the war was over.

Earlier Claudia Mendoza, the JLC’s joint chief executive, was warmly applauded after welcoming guests to the event in an opening speech.

Amongst those to attend were Baroness Ros Altmann, former Conservative minister Nusrat Ghani, Lord John Mann, Lord Ian Austin, Dame Margaret Hodge, Lord Howard Leigh, Lord Stuart Polak, Baroness Gillian Merron, Baroness Ruth Deech , and the MP Alex Sobel.

Other communal figures at the event included Board of Deputies President Marie Van Der Zyl, chief executive Michael Weiger, Rabbi David Mason, We Believe In Israel director Luke Akehurst, Holocaust Education Trust Karen Pollock, along with the organisation’s Ella Rose, the in-coming UJS president Joel Rosen. and the QC Henry Grunwald.

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