Board of Deputies launched censure motion over ‘spectacular own goal’

The two members of the British Board of Deputies who accused their vice-chair of anti-semitism were themselves the target of a censure motion from the Board’s leadership for what was called a “spectacular own goal”.
Jacob Lyons and Martin Rankoff collected signatures for a motion of no confidence in Dr Sheila Gewolb after she issued a press release criticising Israel’s Nation State Law.

The press release was issued by Dr Gewolb in July in the name of the Board and it criticised the new law – which says that only Jewish Israelis have a right to self-determination and downgrades the status of the Arabic language – as “regressive”.

The two members accused her of “applying double standards to Israel” – one of the examples of antisemitism given in the IHRA code that the Board of Deputies persuaded the Labour Party to adopt in its disciplinary code.

This was the example – “applying double standards – that the Board itself used to accuse the National Union of Students of antisemitism for voting to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

The Board used the same example to accuse academics of antisemitism when they wrote to the Guardian to support an academic boycott in 2015.

The potential for embarrassment was recognised by the Board when they issued a vote of censure against the two members for “bringing the Board into disrepute” at the same time as urging their members not to sign their vote of censure against Dr Gewolb.

At a meeting of the Board in October President of the Board Marie van der Zyl issued an edict to members that they had to “welcome a huge diversity of opinion” and “learn to disagree with tolerance and respect”.

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