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Disenfranchised Jewish Brits Play a Prank on Organized British Jewry

Over the weekend Facebook swelled with postings from British Jews seeking to verify an unusual and unexpected email appearing to have been sent by Britain’s primary Jewish institution. The email claimed that a pro-Israel rally in London’s Trafalgar Square planned … Read More

By / January 13, 2009

Over the weekend Facebook swelled with postings from British Jews seeking to verify an unusual and unexpected email appearing to have been sent by Britain’s primary Jewish institution. The email claimed that a pro-Israel rally in London’s Trafalgar Square planned for Sunday was canceled because it "might be perceived as the community taking one side in the tragic war in Gaza and Israel, and might be seen as supporting Israel’s military campaign."

The email, which also called, in the voice of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, for "an immediate ceasefire, immediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and for lifting the economic blockade of Gaza," was apparently a hoax initiated by a group of young British Jews affiliated with the organization Jewdas.

Billed as a "radical Jewish diaspora group," Jewdas is well-known for having pulled off other provocative stunts in the past. Though they have not yet publicly disclosed their involvement, on Sunday an unidentified member of the group was apprehended by the London police as the alleged sender of the email. He is presently awaiting arraignment.

An anonymous source close to Jewdas told Jewcy, "We wanted to show another possible reality, to suggest that another Jewish community is possible. Those who believed it, even for a moment," he said, "were being given a gift — a vision of a Jewish leadership which stands up for peace and justice rather than mindless ethnic solidarity."

The Board of Deputies did not respond to Jewcy‘s requests for comment, but a spokesperson, Samantha Cohen, described the incident to BBC as "an attempt to silence the Jewish community’s support for peace for the people of Israel and Gaza."

Not at all, says the anonymous source. "This action was a call for new or radically reformed Jewish communal organizations. Ones that promote peace and justice over solidarity, and pluralism and democracy over hierarchy and backroom politics."

Taking issue with the Board of Deputies’ branding of the Trafalgar Square rally as one that was "pro-peace," he said, "A rally that puts all the blame on one side and fails to call for a ceasefire would be better be described as a pro-war rally."

"We will not allow the notion of ‘peace’ to be bastardized, to become ‘peace on our terms,’" he added.

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