Kaufman attacks 'pompous' Jewry

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The Independent Online
GERALD KAUFMAN has accused the Board of Deputies of British Jews of being unrepresentative, ignorant, discourteous, pompous and ridiculous.

In a scathing attack on the official representative of British Jewry, the senior Labour MP said he took exception to the board's attitude towards the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.

Mr Kaufman, who is Jewish, writes in this week's New Statesman: "Non- Jewish politicians, from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair and Robin Cook, are deluded into believing that the Board of Deputies is truly representative of all Jews in Britain. It is no such thing."

Referring to the recent cancellation of the board's fund-raising dinner at which Mr Cook was to be principal guest, Mr Kaufman said: "I was even idiotic enough to believe that they could understand that Cook's policy towards Saddam Hussein was, by virtue of its stand against Iraqi aggression, pro-Israeli. Their discourtesy towards Robin Cook demonstrates to me something I had never contemplated: that the Board of Deputies is even more pompous, and ridiculous, than I had thought."

Mr Kaufman went on to attack the political ignorance of many of those who claim to represent Jewish opinion. "Their attitude is that any Israeli government, even an Israeli government as patently vile as Netanyahu's, is always right and must always be supported."

The board is made up of delegates from synagogues and community organisations and regards itself as the secular voice of British Jewry. But Mr Kaufman insists that it is no longer representative since the majority of British Jews are not members of synagogues or other Jewish organisations.