British Jews and Israel

SIR - The Board of Deputies of British Jews recently succeeded in its complaint against an eminent professor at Oxford University regarding a part-time Israeli soldier who had applied to become his student and was refused on the grounds of his nationality (report, Oct 28). The complaint was upheld, and the professor was suspended without pay and his career damaged.

The Board of Deputies was founded in 1760, and claims to be the national representative body of the British Jewish community. As such, it exists to defend the rights and interests of that community in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, under the direction of its chief executive, Neville Nagler, those aims have been suborned to an agenda whereby it has become a political pressure group for the Israeli government, whose policies are anathema to a large section of British Jewry.

There is a groundswell of opinion, certainly in Britain and Europe, that the actions of the Israeli government (and the IDF) constitute ethnic cleansing, and that the Board of Deputies is acting ultra vires its constitution in becoming apologists and supporters of that regime.

My family and I are fourth-generation British Jews, and we wish formally to dissociate ourselves from the actions of this body who, we claim, now increasingly represent the interests of the government of Israel rather than the rights of the British Jewish community.

Michael Halpern
Stanmore, Middlesex