Rabbi walks out of ZF dinner after speaker goes ‘unchallenged’ over refugees

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Rabbi walks out of ZF dinner after speaker goes ‘unchallenged’ over refugees

Lea Muhlstein, rabbi at Northwood and Pinner Liberal shul, heckles Gideon Saar and says she was 'shocked' to see him chosen as keynote speaker

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Zionist Federation dinner saw Sandy Rashty interview controversial speaker Gideon Saar
Zionist Federation dinner saw Sandy Rashty interview controversial speaker Gideon Saar

A rabbi who attended the Zionist Federation dinner on Sunday night was so infuriated by Gideon Saar’s remarks that she heckled him and then walked out in protest.

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein, of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, told the Jewish News that she had written to the Zionist Federation to complain that the Israeli politician’s sometimes controversial views had gone unchallenged.

She said: “His attitudes were not challenged and were not representative of British Jewish responses to Zionism and Israel. I was not surprised at his views, but I was shocked that a guest speaker at the ZF, which is supposed to be an umbrella body for the whole of the community, should say such things and that no alternative view was presented.”

Lea Mühlstein

Rabbi Muhlstein, who says she is “a deeply committed Zionist who spends every moment of my free time doing Zionist work”, shouted at Mr Saar when he declared that Israel was not deporting asylum seekers and refugees. “Yes, you are!” she declared, but she was not permitted to make further remarks.

She said she was a “firm believer in engaging positively with Israel”, and particularly encouraged young people that “if you want to be part of the conversation you have to be part of organisations like the ZF”, and not just Yachad or the New Israel Fund. But she said that Mr Saar was ignoring the strength of feeling that had led 70 rabbis to protest to the Israeli embassy in the UK about the proposed deportations, or that the Jewish Agency had passed a resolution deploring the policy. “His should not be the only voice”, Rabbi Muhlstein said.


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