JNF UK chair: 'Leadership failure' in British Jewry

No leaders are speaking up for Israel's legitimacy, Hayek says.

jnf 311 (photo credit: israel sun)
jnf 311
(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.”
Throughout 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 with.
They interpret all Muslim hate toward the West as deriving from Israel’s establishment.”
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.
The council’s voice goes unheard even in the midst of deep crisis.
“In fact, 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 Israel.
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 forest of 25,000 trees in honor of British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who Hayek calls “a philosopher, author, perhaps the greatest Jewish orator of our day.”
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 inspires all of Britain.
The forest, situated in the hills outside Jerusalem, was dedicated on Wednesday.