Liberal Judaism is hosting the lawyer Tasnime Akunjee on 4 April at an event to be chaired by Charlotte Fischer. Fischer accepted an invitation to the despicable ‘Kaddish For Hamas’ (though it is not clear whether she attended).
Akunjee reportedly recently called for former Home Secretary Amber Rudd to be sent to a “concentration camp” and has reportedly appeared to suggest that 9/11 was an inside job. He reportedly (same source) has links to Cage, the group described by a former London Mayor as “apologists for terror”. He has also reportedly (same source) urged Muslims not to cooperate with the government’s anti-terror Prevent strategy, and has reportedly (same source) suggested Theresa May has “Nazi blood in her veins”.
His latest outrage has been to compare ISIS to Israel. Here is what he said in a New Statesman interview):
“IS, too, had special attractions. “They had a benefits system,” he says. “They showed people living in mansions with chandeliers. And Isis learned a lot from Israel about how to build an expansionist state… Israel can go into Palestinian territory and build buildings there, then it will call on people from abroad to join the state-building exercise. Isis copied their model directly from Israel. You have Israel calling on Jews from around the world… they have an automatic right to be a citizen of Israel. That’s exactly the same as Isis, in the sense that if you’re Muslim and you come over here, you’ll be looked after.”
(He later said: “To clarify I did not compare Israel to ISIS, I merely pointed out that ISIS had attempted to copy aspects of Israel’s expansionist policy.” Pull the other one.)
Danny Rich heads Liberal Judaism. He is standing by the invitation to Akunjee. Rich of course has form.
In 2010 Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich gave Jeff Halper (of “Israel Committee Against House Demolitions”) a platform. The meeting was organised by “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” but Rich let the hall to them and was at the meeting. Jeff Halper openly advocates ‘One State’. This is antisemitic (see IHRA which says that ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination’ is antisemitic). Halper has also used Nazi analogies to describe Israeli policy (also antisemitic under the EUMC Definition).
After the meeting Rich wrote the following on my JC blog: (his post was on 22 March, the blog was dated 20 March): “Liberal Judaism rejects the allegation that the advocacy of a one state solution is by definition antisemitic”. Therefore Rich does not accept the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism, which even the Labour Party now accepts.
The fundamental expression of Zionism is the Jerusalem Programme. All Officers and Patrons of the Zionist Federation must declare adherence to it. The Jerusalem Programme says that one of the foundations of Zionism is the bond of the Jewish people to its historic homeland in the State of Israel and the centrality of that State and Jerusalem in the life of the nation. Another foundation is strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.
Hosting a ‘One Stater’ and denying that ‘One State’ is antisemitic clearly violates the Jerusalem Programme. So does hosting someone who compares Israel to ISIS. Rich claims to accept the Jerusalem Programme but his conduct tells a different story.
More recently, Rich accepted Nina Morris-Evans – a Kaddish for Hamas participant – as an Israel tour leader, even after the Reform movement and reportedly UJIA had vetoed her, reportedly due to parents’ objections.
And Rich called Jenny Manson “a very decent woman”. Manson chairs Jewish Voice for Labour. JVL is an organisation that appears to lend legitimacy to antisemitism by giving it the ‘kosher seal of approval’. JVL is led by a handful of vocal Jews from the far-left fringe, who have been accused of using their Jewish identity to render antisemitism acceptable. Its membership includes a large number of non-Jews, many of whom have been accused of antisemitism.
Manson said “When I began to identify as a Jew in order to argue against the State of Israel and its behaviour and its conduct, my mother supported me, which was very welcome”. In other words she appears only to identify as a Jew because of her belief that it increases her credibility in vilifying Israel.
Again recently, Danny Rich hosted Manson and Corbyn for Friday night dinner. It was entirely wrong to break the Community’s united strong strategy in dealing with Corbyn. More than six months ago the Board and the JLC set out simple basic steps that Labour needed to take to restore the community’s trust. Labour has signally failed to take them, indeed things have got worse. Rich (a Labour Councillor) has been virtually invisible in the fight against Labour antisemitism.
Rich’s conduct has earned an unprecedented rebuke from JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein. After Rich said the current level of “no discussion” between the Jewish community and Labour was “not helpful” to either, Goldstein commented thus: “Holding the Jewish community accountable for the current impasse has the danger of becoming a form of victim-blaming. It is important to remember that this isn’t a fight the community wants to have, it is one we have been forced into.”
Patrons are supposed to be Ambassadors of an organisation to the world. The ZF cannot have as its Ambassador someone who fails to accept either the Jerusalem Programme or the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism and who lends legitimacy to the enemies of mainstream Judaism in the UK. Danny Rich‘s position as a ZF Patron must surely be terminated. Despite my best efforts this has not yet happened: it has always been blocked by his supporters (who hold the most votes in the ZF).
But how can any Zionist organisation have credibility when it has a Patron such as this?