U.K. Jewish Leaders Fall Out Over Netanyahu's Speech

Board of Deputies vice president Jonathan Arkush takes issues with treasurer Laurence Brass over whether Netanyahu went to Washington as the emissary of all Jews.

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File photo: Netanyahu greets people on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2011, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress.
File photo: Netanyahu greets people on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2011, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress.Credit: AP

Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress on Tuesday was the cause of a clash between two leaders of the British Jewish community this week, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

The two, Jewish Board of Deputies vice-president Jonathan Arkush and the organization's treasurer Laurence Brass, expressed widely divergent views about the speech in an exchange of emails.

It began when Brass, who has already announced that he is stepping down in May, retweeted a message from lawyer Adam Cannon that read: "Netanyahu boards plane for Washington: 'I go as an emissary of the entire Jewish people' you are not my emissary."

In announcing his resignation recently, Brass said that he had been "bursting" to criticize Israeli policy for many years.

Arkush, who will be standing for the presidency of the board at the next elections, responded that "Netanyahu is going to the USA as the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel

"He is warning of Iran's nuclear determination which poses a mortal threat to Israel (and the west.)

Brass, an asylum judge, then emailed that, "Netanyahu has absolutely no right to say that he speaks for the entire Jewish people. He certainly doesn't. He speaks for his own dishonored administration which hopefully will cease in 16 days' time.

"In the meantime, he is wrecking Israel/U.S. relations and my friends in the Democratic Party in the U.S. tell me that they are exasperated at his behavior this week."

"I know you are 'bursting' to criticise the government of Israel but surely you can wait until you are no longer an officer of the Board?" Arkush replied.

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