Stay in touch!
Sign up to be updated with Evolve's latest stories, and for opportunities to get involved.
Last Thursday the Jewish Chronicle reported that they had “seen tweets shared by Roslyn Pine, who stood unsuccessfully to be vice-president of the Board in last month’s elections, describing Muslims as “the vilest of animals”, as well as one describing Arabs as “so evil”. She also retweeted a message describing Arab migrants to Europe as “an invading army”.”
When challenged by the Chronicle on her abhorrent views Pine, who represents a far-right tendency within the Board, was emphatic
I detest the creed of Islam and I’m entitled to say it.
Her invective stands in stark contrast with the words and actions of the longstanding anti-racist campaigner Marc Wadsworth – who was recently expelled from the Labour Party over extremely dubious allegations of anti-Semitism – as well as Jeremy Corbyn himself.
And Pine’s dangerous views are not anomalous amongst the leadership of the Board of Deputies either. Robert Festenstein, who also stood to become a Vice President of the Board, courted controversy recently by agreeing to be interviewed by Britain’s leading Islamophobe, Tommy Robinson. Festernstein is also a director of the right-wing Jewish Human Rights Watch, a group that conflates opposition to the crimes of the Israeli State with anti-Semitism.
In August 2015, another representative of the Board of Deputies (as well as Jewish Human Rights Watch), Jonathan Neumann, compared Leicester City’s Labour-run Council to Hitler’s genocidal regime because the Council had agreed to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
In a YouTube video made at the time, Neumann explains, in direct reference to Leicester’s boycott: “When the Nazis first came to power in 1930s Germany, one of the very first things they implemented were boycotts of Jews.”
Who do the Board of Deputies Represent?
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has been presented in the Tory press as an organization that represents the voice of Jewish people in Britain… as if there is just one voice! This is not the case. As Jewish Voice for Labour made clear in a recent statement:
“We are appalled by the actions and statements of the Board of Deputies. They do not represent us or the great majority of Jews in the Party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness.”
Rather, the Board of Deputies represents a very particular strain of thought – one which unflinchingly supports the actions of the current Israeli government. This was confirmed by Roslyn Pine herself when, during her leadership campaign, she was asked “How will you [as a potential Vice President of the Deputies] represent the diversity of opinion in our community with regards to Israel?” She responded:
That is not required by the Board’s constitution, nor is it feasible. The Board should take no view as to this or that Israeli policy. The Board’s remit is to do whatever in its power to support Israel’s security, well-being and standing.
Clearly a large part of this mission includes smearing and attacking those who oppose Israeli State terror, including Labour’s current leader.
The Fight for Democracy
And while Corbyn and his supporters have always sought to promote democracy and fairness, the Board of Deputies serves the opposite purpose. Indeed, Roslyn Pine again provides evidence of this when responding to the following question “What is the one thing that most frustrates you about the Board?” She replied:
Not having any role in decision making, despite sitting on a division (International). The democratic mandate seems to be for the very few. It seems that the views of the average deputy count for very little.
Her wording (unconsciously) evokes the very antithesis of the Labour Party’s current slogan – “for the many, not the few” – as well as the underpinning values of the labour movement.
But clearly there remains a minority of Labour Party members who do not share in this noble idea – including numerous MPs and Councillors, many of whom are enthusiastic supporters of the ongoing witch-hunt against socialists.
One of the main tasks facing Labour members at the moment, therefore, is to push for the full democratisation of the Labour Party – including the readmission of expelled socialists and the reintroduction of mandatory reselection – which would enable pro-working-class MPs and councillors to replace the current pro-capitalist ones.