Monday, July 01, 2013

Good news/bad news from the UK Board of Deputies

Elder of Ziyon


British shoppers will be encouraged to buy Israeli products next week as part of an initiative to counter boycott campaigns.

Dates, fruit, olives and wines are expected to be among the items that Israel supporters add to their shopping trolleys and baskets.

It is hoped that Buy Israeli Goods Week, starting on Monday, will nullify the efforts of anti-Israel activists who are expected to lobby Sainsbury’s next month in an attempt to see Israeli products removed from the chain’s stores.

The pro-Israel scheme — dubbed a “buycott” — has been co-ordinated by Stand With Us, the Zionist Federation, the Board of Deputies and the Fair Play Campaign Group.

Irene Naftalin, Stand With Us community director, said customers should tell supermarket staff “how much they value the opportunity to buy Israeli goods in their stores”.

ZF chairman Paul Charney said: “Sainsbury’s has so far resisted the boycotters’ call. We need to do everything possible to ensure this boycott attack fails completely.
This is a welcome move.

Unfortunately, I didn't see anything about this at the Board of Deputies of British Jews site, while I was looking but I did see that this organization had come out against Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer speaking in England!

It seems likely that their stance against Geller and Spencer, made before the Home Office decision, might have influenced it!

Here's what they wrote before the decision:
The Board of Deputies shares with the CST and American Jewish communal bodies including the Anti-Defamation League the very strong and longstanding concerns about the views of people like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who are planning to attend the Woolwich EDL march.

The Board’s Vice President Jonathan Arkush said: “Our community has no need of their presence here and they would be better advised to have nothing to do with the EDL.

“The Board considers their presence to be deeply unhelpful to community relations and would have no objection if they were not permitted to enter this country.”
After the decision, they reiterated their stance.

I agree wholeheartedly with Melanie Phillips, who wrote:
By banning from the country as extremists the American anti-jihadis Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, the Home Secretary Teresa May has not only made herself look ridiculous but has sent the enemies of the United Kingdom the message that they have it on the run.

I do not support the approach taken by either Geller or Spencer to the problem of Islamic extremism. Both have endorsed groups such as the EDL and others which at best do not deal with the thuggish elements in their ranks and at worst are truly racist or xenophobic.

The result has been a serious blow to the credibility of these two writers, with particular damage being done to Spencer whose scholarship in itself is scrupulous. It has also split the defence against Islamic extremism, and handed a potent propaganda weapon to those who seek falsely to portray as bigoted extremists all who are engaged in the defence of the west against the Islamic jihad.

Nevertheless, the decision to ban this duo from Britain is unjustified, oppressive and comes perilously close to lining up the British government alongside those who wish to silence defenders of the west against the jihad, making a total mockery of Britain’s understanding of just who presents a danger to the state.

Neither Geller nor Spencer remotely presents such a danger. They intended to come to Britain to join an EDL rally in Woolwich, in the wake of the barbaric murder there of Drummer Lee Rigby by two Islamists last month.

Personally, I believe the EDL is not a respectable platform to join. Whether or not its rally is itself a threat to public order is, however, another issue. As far as is known, it is not being banned. It is only Geller and Spencer who have been banned from the country on the grounds that their presence is ‘not conducive to the public good’. The implication is that they will incite violence or disorder. But all the two of them do is criticise Islam, condemn jihadis and warn against the west’s failure to take seriously their machinations.

One may think they go too far, that some of their views are unpleasant or offensive or wrong; but that is surely no reason to ban them from the country. What on earth have we come to, after all, when the British Home Secretary is banning people on the basis that they criticise Islam and warn against jihadi violence? Is this not exactly the menacing argument mounted by Islamic extremists, that any condemnation of Islamic extremism is to be banned as ‘Islamophobic’?

Moreover, from the text of the Home Secretary’s letter to Spencer, it would appear that the reason for the the ban is that the British government is now telling people that certain interpretations of Islam are to be proscribed, even if they may be true – a truly terrifying and totalitarian development, and an open assault upon freedom of thought and expression, not to mention religious scholarship.

And if the argument is that any criticism of Islam may incite violence against Muslims, then by the same token Mrs May should ban all criticism of Israel -- on the much firmer grounds that there is a clearly demonstrated correlation between hate campaigns against Israel and attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. Of course, that would be unthinkable. So why the double standard?
Read the whole thing.

While the Home Secretary deserves to be ridiculed for this decision, the Board of Deputies of British Jews acted unconscionably in pro-actively standing against free speech that happens to be critical of Islam. Its like they are trying so hard to be seen as moderate that they cannot even find the backbone to stand up for what is right even when it might ruffle a few feathers.

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