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Board of Deputies’ statement on combating anti-Muslim hatred

In recent evidence submitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee, the BoD affirms its strong opposition to anti-Muslim bigotry, and its commitment to joint work on tackling hate crime:

While antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred differ significantly in their histories and manifestations, we recognise that efforts to tackle both will only reach their full potential when minority communities including Jews and Muslims work in partnership.

In the past the BoD has opposed the Swiss minaret ban and distanced itself from the EDL’s  pro-Israel stance. More recently it has spoken out agsinst Kelvin Mackenzie’s attack on Channel 4 news presenter Fatima Manji and of course against the travel bans imposed by Trump.

The BoD also  supports the work of Tell MAMA in countering anti-Muslim bigotry – Tell MAMA consistently opposes antisemitism and has collaborated with the CST in their work on hate crime; this is noted by the BoD as ‘a prime example of the kind of partnership that is needed to tackle hate crime in all its forms.’

However the BoD is critical of the approach taken by MEND – Muslim Engagement and Development – to tackling bigotry.

We remain greatly disturbed by statements attributed to MEND such as one by its CEO Sufiyan Ismail, in which he claimed that “in 300 years the Israeli lobby has not lost a vote in Parliament”[6]. Given that the state of Israel has only existed since 1948, the “Israeli lobby” in this quote can only be a synonym for British Jews, of which Ismail celebrates that “they were battered, absolutely battered”.

While we have met representatives of MEND in the past, we would not intentionally meet with the organisation again until we are confident that it intends to promote a positive relationship towards Jews, the Jewish community and communal bodies and stands unequivocally opposed to extremism. As matters stand at present we are unable to work with MEND on any projects, and recommend that others look for alternative partners – such as Tell MAMA - in the work of combatting anti-Muslim hatred.

More positively, there are plenty of examples of the communities working together on issues of joint concern. Last month at Limmud Jewish and Muslim activists explored ways of tackling hate crime together, and Jonathan Arkush, the BoD President, has recently visited a mosque in Bradford in order to help promote good communal relations.