The Board of Deputies’ appalling lack of clarity in response to the Kairos document

This is a guest post from Jonathan Hoffman

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has published “Zionism: A Communal Response.”

A response to what, precisely?

Its a response to the so-called Kairos document issued by a group of Palestinian Christian theologians in December 2009.

That document is far from even-handed. It speaks of ‘occupation’ without acknowledging the withdrawal from Gaza; fails to say that the separation fence has saved hundreds of lives because it has all but eliminated suicide bombers; wrongly suggests that Israel disregards international law; suggests that Israel is practising ‘collective punishment’; appears to sanction terror (“Resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian”); and supports a boycott of Israeli goods. It portrays Israel’s creation as a response to Western guilt over the Holocaust, rather than as a legitimate expression of Jewish self-determination.  It even refers to Israeli occupation as “a sin against God.

CAMERA has noted that the Kairos document has many similarities with a memorandum issued by Arab Christians in 1967 entitled “What is Required of the Christian Faith Concerning the Palestine Problem.”

So the Board’s document knocks these tropes on the head, right?


Rabbi Wittenberg’s piece addresses the Holocaust point but none of the others.

Rabbi Bayfield doesn’t really attack any of the Kairos tropes.

Dan Rickman (who posts at the Guardian’s Comment is Free as “leftwingorthodoxjew”) says that the Kairos document was written out of “a feeling of pain and distress” and then fails to take it on. (He does note the unbroken history of Jewish life in the Holy Land).

Rabbi Danny Rich (who’s on the Board of Patrons of the far left site, JNews) also notes the historic links of the Jews with the Holy Land. He then outlines ten biblical principles. Incredibly he sees moral equivalence between the Israeli case and the Palestinian case:

“There is little evidence of these principles being applied on either side of the divide.”

Even more incredibly he seems prepared to give up the Jewish State:

“At one time a binational state might have been a possibility, but in the absence of support for it from the mainstream of either side partition seems to be the only viable option.”

This fits in with (and casts light on) his refusal to see the advocacy of “One State” as antisemitic.

It is utterly bewildering how he manages to square this with remaining as a Patron of the Zionist Federation. Surely in all conscience he should step down.

In its conception, choice of authors and execution, this is a document that should never have seen the light of day. That it did so once again underlines that UK’s Jewish leadership unbelievably still does not ‘get it’ when it comes to delegitimisation and vilification of Israel. Just what will it take?

I should add that I am a member of the Board of Deputies and indeed am on the International Division which should surely have seen this publication well before it saw the light of day. But it didn’t.

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