British Jews urge ‘independent’ stand on Israel

A group of Anglo-Jewish notables urged Jews to take a more “independent” stance on Israel than do mainstream community groups. In a statement posted Monday on a Web site linked to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the left-leaning group Independent Jewish Voices called for equitable treatment of Israelis and Palestinians, and deplored anti-Arab bigotry as akin to anti-Semitism. The group, comprised of dozens of Jewish intellectuals and celebrities including actor Stephen Fry and film director Mike Leigh, hinted that it sought to break from the umbrella Board of Deputies of British Jews, which has backed Israel in its recent conflicts with Hezbollah and the Palestinians. “We come together in the belief that the broad spectrum of opinion among the Jewish population of this country is not reflected by those institutions which claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole,” the group said. “We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty.”

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