Letter signed by 46 deputies demands JNF UK chair resigns over Islamophobic comments
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Letter signed by 46 deputies demands JNF UK chair resigns over Islamophobic comments

Motion calling on Board to cut ties with charity while Hayek remains chair tabled ahead of next plenary

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Samuel Hayek
Samuel Hayek

More than 46 elected Board of Deputies representatives have signed a letter demanding that trustees of the Jewish National Fund UK charity back calls for chairman Samuel Hayek to resign over Islamophobic comments he made when discussing the future of Jews in England.

The open letter – signed by Deputies and those with under-35 observer status on the Board from across the Jewish religious spectrum, including three United Synagogue representatives – calls for the 11 trustees to take “decisive active” over the JNF UK chair’s inflammatory comments.

It adds:”However, condemnation is not even enough. Samuel Hayek must resign, and his Islamophobic comments must be condemned explicitly by you as his fellow trustees.

“Until such a time that this happens, we will advise our synagogues and organisations to withdraw cooperation with JNF UK and the programmes that it funds and supports.

“We will also advise the members of our synagogues to ensure that their children do not take part in programmes run or funded by JNF UK.”

Jewish News can also reveal that a motion tabled in advance of the next Board plenary later this month has called on the communal organisation to remove JNF UK as a member while Hayek continues to remain chair.

Last month Hayek doubled down on comments made to an Israeli newspaper, when he told Jewish News that as a result of Muslim immigration “maybe in 10 years, maybe less” Jews would no longer be able to live in the UK.

Pressed on what evidence there was to support his claim, Hayek added: “The evidence is the number of immigrants to England.

Asked whether he was referring specifically to issues around Muslim immigration, Hayek said: ”You are not wrong.”

During a 25 minute long conversation with Jewish News, Hayek also appeared to be adopting far-right great replacement theory when he claimed that in the UK “the process is the white Christian majority is shrinking. It shrinks to a degree where there is a point it cannot protect itself anymore. “

In their letter, sent to JNF UK trustees on Tuesday, the signatories state:” We are writing to you regarding the recent and well-documented remarks of your Chairman, Samuel Hayek.

” This includes the interview with The Jerusalem Post (2nd December) that states that Jews “have no future in England”, and was explained further in an interview with The Jewish News (22nd December).

“In this, Hayek is quoted linking Jews’ future to Muslim immigration. He is quoted saying that ‘in Islam there is not a term for ‘peace’ and that ‘immigration that is motivated and guided by the rules of Islam’ is violent, and does not want to integrate into a Britain’s ‘process of thinking’.

“It is chilling that Hayek echoes Great Replacement Theory – an ideology used historically against Jewish communities – that ‘the white Christian majority is shrinking … to a degree where there is a point it cannot protect itself anymore’.”

The letter, signed by Masorti, Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and Habonim Dror, UJS and Yachad representatives, states: “These bigoted remarks have no place in our community. If we have come to expect zero tolerance of antisemitism, we must show zero tolerance of racism and Islamophobia. ”

JNF UK’s trustees include Gary Mond, an Honorary Officer at the Board, who chairs the Communities and Education division.

But the signatories of the letter to the trustees write:”Leadership requires decisive action, and requires actions that may be uncomfortable.

“We note that the statement from Gary Mond, JNF’s Honorary Treasurer, representative at the Board of Deputies, and the Board’s Senior Vice President – which states that his views ‘differ profoundly’ from Hayek’s – does not even go as far as to condemn these comments.

“We fear that his failure to do so will cause irrevocable damage to Jewish-Muslim relations and be disreputable to the Board of Deputies itself.”

The other JNF UK trustees are Howard Wayne, Belinda Oakland, Laurence Julius, Hayek himself, Gideon Falter, Timothy Kendal, Marilyn Waisman, Murray Lee and Alan Mendoza.

Asked to comment on Hayek’s remarks, Mendoza told Jewish News:”As Samuel Hayek was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of me as a trustee or of JNF UK collectively, I’m not going to comment on his personal opinions in a JNF UK capacity.”

Jewish News is also approaching JNF UK patrons for comment on Hayek’s remarks. Patrons include Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and former Labour Prime Minister’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Meanwhile, a motion tabled in advance of the next Board plenary on January 23rd by Joel Rosen, the in-coming Union of Jewish Students president, calls on the Board to remove JNF UK as a member of the organisation while Hayek remains chair.

The motion, seconded by Finchley Reform Synagogue’s Robert Stone, states:”“The Board of Deputies hereby resolves that the membership of the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK) should be removed – or JNF UK should be asked to surrender its membership – until such time Samuel Hayek is replaced as its Chair and the Jewish National Fund formally disavows his bigoted remarks.”

Hayek’s comments have been condemned by leaders of the main Jewish communal organisations.

Jonathan Goldstein, the out-going chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, reacted furiously to Hayek’s comments labeling them “simplistic and reckless.”
Board 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.

Page one of the letter
Page 2 of the letter

 

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