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Janner Elected President of Board of Deputies of British Jews

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Anglo-Jewish leaders should not shrink from criticizing Israel when they disagree with its policies, but should initially try to air their views in private, Greville Janner, the new president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said today.

Declaring himself a staunch Zionist, Janner who will be 51 years old next week, the youngest president of the 219-year-old Board, pledged himself to strive for better relations between the Israeli and British governments. He said “it would be a disaster for the United Kingdom to fall out with Israel.”

Janner was elected to the Board’s president unopposed after serving six years as its senior vice president. He is a son of Lord Janner, another former Board president. A Labor MP he represents Leicester West in the House of Commons, the same seat once held by his father. His Board presidency will last initially for three years and under the present constitution he can serve two consecutive terms of office.

Addressing on inaugural press conference today, he expressed concern at the tendency of certain British newspapers to hold Israel responsible for the higher oil prices set by Middle East oil producing countries. He said “We totally reject that view.” The Board will continue to press the government to take a firmer line against the Arab boycott and to cease authenticating “negative certificates of origin” for goods exported to certain Arab countries, Janner said.

On the domestic scene, the Board will step up its fight against the “Hitlerite” National Front movement in close liaison with other minority groups since, Janner said, “The Jewish community and the community in general, depends on the survival of democracy.”

However, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Board’s own public standing. As a result of “major failures in relations with the press.” it has not even convinced members of the Jewish public that the Board was relevant to their daily lives, Janner said. He said he hoped to rectify this by creating a new press and public relations committee and a pool of lecturers for Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.

In his first presidential address over the weekend. Janner said that the Board would Increasingly monitor legislation on its way through Parliament and sharpen our sensitivities…in the wider area of human rights.” His other proposals for making the Board more effective include the establishment of Jewish citizens advice centers and the holding of regional conferences of Deputies.

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