Racism at the Board of Deputies (again) – “Desmond Tutu is a true black coward” 🤮

Joshua said: “Shall we trouble our community for the sake of these foreign people?” However, the Holy One, ever to be blessed, said to him, “Joshua, if you estrange those that are distant you will ultimately estrange also those who are near. Go and learn where you yourself came from!”

Numbers Rabbah 8:4

It seems like hardly any time since I shared a drash calling on the Board of Deputies to ask itself: “Why do we attract so many loudmouthed, out-and-out racists to our ranks?”

Since then, the Board’s senior vice-president Gary Mond – who is also a leading figure in JNF UK, itself beleaguered with a racism scandal at the moment – was found to have shared far-right content on social media. This included references to Muslims as “evil bastards” and calls for a “war with Islam”. An open letter in Gary Mond’s support (!) garnered a sprinkling of signatures, some of which themselves come from questionable characters.

One of these questionable characters is a member of the Board of Deputies named Peter Baum, who represents Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation. I was horrified to find, glancing at his Twitter page, him deriding the late Desmond Tutu z”l as a “black coward” and a “black Quisling”, and the Palestinians as “human excrement”, and a slew of other comments all of which breach the Board’s code of conduct.

There is currently particular public concern about the racism at the heart of UK Jewish communal institutions, and Peter Baum’s tweets have been reported in the Jewish press. As such, in the interests of transparency I am publishing my complaint against Peter Baum and its appendix of evidence in full. You can read it below or by clicking here.

In praise of cancel culture (which doesn’t really exist)

We’ve been hearing more and more about how cancel culture (i) exists and (ii) is evil. And my reaction is, paradoxically, to dispute both of those claims: I don’t think it really exists, and, if it does, it’s hard to characterise it as a bad thing. Or even as new.

I’ve written a paper from a Liberal Jewish perspective examining ‘cancel culture’ from Moses to the Mishnah to the present day. I quote the Talmud and the Canadian Supreme Court; I go on a glamorous [hypothetical] journey from Wolverhampton to Sussex to Lod.

You can read my paper below or by clicking here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the issues I’ve raised.