(photo credit: israel sun)
In the face of a maelstrom of anti-Israel rhetoric and feeling, British Jewry’s
leadership is failing to speak up for Israel’s legitimacy, one of the leaders of
the community charged this week.
Samuel Hayek, chairman of JNF UK, one of
the major British fundraising bodies for charitable work in Israel, believes
Israel, and the British Jewish community alongside it, faces a “broad and deep
and well-financed campaign” of anti-Israel activism funded partly from outside
the country “that has grown louder in recent years.”
British Jews “feel
that this campaign is succeeding,” he warned. “It’s a fact that we face an
unprecedented reality in which Israeli leaders can’t come to Britain and conduct
the normal dialogue that takes place between two states.”
Europe, “intellectuals I speak with believe that the very establishment of
Israel was a mistake. The ‘moderates’ believe it’s a mistake they have to live
They interpret all Muslim hate toward the West as deriving from
Hayek is a member of the Council of Jewish
Leaders, a body consisting of the heads of the major British Jewish charities,
synagogue movements and organizations, including the United Synagogue, UJA, JNF
and BICOM, alongside influential Jewish leaders such as Lord Michael Levy, Dame
Ruth Deech and Sir Ronald Cohen.
These Jewish leaders “have a culture of
whispering,” Hayek believes. “They whisper to friends instead of saying things
loudly and clearly.
They think, ‘Why get the establishment angry?’” This
has translated into “a very great failure of leadership in England,” Hayek says.
“In these difficult times, the community’s voice is a weak whisper.
council’s voice goes unheard even in the midst of deep crisis.
it is the community’s quiet whispering that creates the impression that we
operate under the surface and hold some kind of magical sway. We have to put
things on the table.”
Hayek urged British Jewish leaders “to exercise
their legitimate democratic influence in British media and politics. The Jewish
community in Britain has a legitimate right to influence just like every citizen
has to right to influence.”
The failure of leadership he sees in British
Jewry is part of a broader phenomenon, Hayek believes.
“There’s a serious
crisis of leadership in the Jewish world, and not just in Britain or
Is anybody actually talking about what the Jewish world will be
like in 30 years?” Hayek is in Israel this week for the dedication of a
of 25,000 trees in honor of British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who
“a philosopher, author, perhaps the greatest Jewish orator of our
Sacks, who also sits in the British House of Lords, “is not simply
a leader of his religious sector, but is seen as a moral leader who
The forest, situated in the hills outside Jerusalem, was
dedicated on Wednesday.