That Hoax Email

[The text below was circulated as an email from info@boardofdeputies.org on the 9th of January 2009. It was followed up by an admission of authorship (below)  from ourselves here at Jewdas five days later.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, in consultation with a coalition of prominent organisations in the Anglo-Jewish community, have decided to cancel the planned Israel Solidarity Rally, due to occur on Sunday 11th of January.

This decision has been taken after intense discussions within the community, due to a feeling that such a demonstration would not be in accordance with the Board’s wish to bring the conflict to an immediate conclusion. It was thought that the demonstration 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 Board calls for an immediate ceasefire, immediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and for lifting the economic blockade of Gaza, in order to allow the Gazan and Israeli people to live together in peace. There is no military solution, only a political one.

The Jewish community does not wish to be seen as a participant in the conflict, and in taking this stand we hope to be a part of the solution. The Board stands in solidarity with the besieged and injured people of Gaza, as well as the victims of terrorism in Israel, and we oppose all violence as contrary to the tenets of the Jewish religion. We would like to reach out to the British Muslim community, as well as those of no religion who have demonstrated against Israel’s military campaign-we share your anguish at the destruction and loss of life caused, and hope that our action in calling off our demonstration will be a small step towards peace.

Board of Deputies of British Jews and The Jewish Leadership Council

For all enquiries contact:

The Board of Deputies of British Jews
6 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2LP

Tel: +44 (0)20 7543 5400
Fax: +44 (0)20 7543 0010

Email: info@boardofdeputies.org


[The text below was sent out as an email across the Jewdas mailing list on the 14th January 2009, following on from our hoax email sent five days earlier.]

Well yes, it was us. We sent the Board of Deputies Hoax email. Not some ‘Islamist cell’ or ‘Hamas supporters’ as many of you imagined. Just a group of nice yiddisher boys and girls, of the sort that you might run into in your local kosher delicatessen. We weren’t doing it to be malicious, we weren’t trying to ‘upset’ anyone, we weren’t even trying to stop people going to the rally. We just thought we’d give people something to talk about over Kiddush, instead of discussing the poor quality of the gefilte fish. Moreover, we wanted, in this action, to show another possible reality, to suggest that ‘another jewish community is possible.’

Those who believed it, even for a moment, were being given a gift, a vision of the Jewish leadership who stood up for peace and justice, rather than standing for mindless ethnic solidarity. These people should not be considered gullible, rather they showed the imagination to see an inspiring, alternative vision. We offered a Midrash on Anglo-Jewish life, a dvar aher (another path), an aggadah for the Talmud of the present. In this ‘temporary imaginary zone’ the Jewish Establishment opened up, listening to the voices it usually shuts out, thought outside the box, and took a brave decision on principle rather in accordance with political expediency. And many Jews agreed with this bold (imaginary) decision, as you can see in some of the responses received at the bottom of this email. Further, we have reports of a person believing the email for a whole shabbat, and describing that day as ‘the best day of her life’. A shabbat in accord with the best of Judaism then, in sad contrast to the shabbat on which this war was launched.

So back to the rather less inspiring reality. The demo was described as a ‘peace rally’. Now we at Jewdas recognise good satire when we see it, and this is particularly hilarious. But come on guys – Peace Rally? Sadly it was anything but. The slogan was End Hamas Terror; Peace for the People of Israel and Gaza. So no mention of the Israeli army then. Its not like they’ve been involved have they? They’ve just been sitting around, playing Kalooki. A rally that puts all the blame on one side (and arguably on the weaker one at that) and fails to call for a ceasefire, can hardly be described as being for peace. The fact that an Israeli embassy spokesperson could sum up the rally, on the Jewish Chronicle’s website as “They understand we had no chance but to go forward with a military operation” tells you all you need to know. We will not allow the notion of ‘peace’ to be bastardised, to become ‘peace on our terms’. Let us repeat the proposal in our email, this time under our own name:

We call for an immediate ceasefire, immediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas, and for lifting the economic blockade of Gaza, in order to allow the Gazan and Israeli people to live together in peace. There is no military solution, only a political one.

The proposal put out in our email was eminently reasonable, it was not a demonisation of Israel, rather a call for an immediate ceasefire and for negotiations, trying to end the cycle of violence. This is what calling for peace actually entails and we stand by the proposals outlined within it.

And as we looked through the responses from those who believed they really had received a message from the BOD, some expressing vile anti-Islamic abuse and condemning supposed ‘appeasement’, it was proved that brave leadership from a diasporic Jewish body to oppose these views is a necessity. We understand those who responded from within Israel, we feel your fear deeply, but until a two-way peace process on fair terms is initiated, you’ll never be free from fear. But an urgent corrective is needed for those based in Britain saying such things as “this plays directly to the hands of the Islamo-fascists”, “I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you. They don’t want to be at peace with you” and “By cancelling tomorrow’s event you are telling the world that we are no match for the Palestinians. Your statement regarding the Jewish community not wanting to be seen as a participant in the conflict is a brazen untruth. WE ARE participants in the conflict”.

Where is the representative body who will tell these people that it’s not about being a match for ‘them’ or being a one-sided ‘participant’, that there is no ‘them and us’, that the fate of Israeli-Palestinian populations are bound together – indeed, just as Jewish-Muslim populations in the UK are? This is a voice that is urgently required.

The Jewish establishment has been trying to create the illusion of unified solidarity behind Israel. But they are losing. A growing number of Jews are not happy to be the PR foot soldiers of the Israeli embassy, and they do not want to be represented as such. As much as anything else, this action is a call for new, or radically reformed Jewish communal organisations, ones that promote peace and justice over solidarity, and pluralism and democracy over hierarchy and backroom politics. There’s a great desire within the British Jewish community to express and support alternative views; our message was sent, not via some undercover email stealing operation, but by using our own mailing list. We call on all those members of the Jewish community opposed to the carnage in Gaza to have no fear and to stand against self-appointed leaders and to call for peace and dialogue NOW – not just in Gaza, but within the Jewish community.

We’ll leave it to a prominent member UK Jewish playwright to sum it up in his response to the original email.

“You have made a wise decision to cancel the demonstration, and your reasoning is clear and admirable.”

If only such an admirable communal leadership existed beyond a hoax.

**********************************

…………………………….

**********************************

A selection of responses to the original email

**********************************

Your email brought tears to my eyes.Thank you for your courage and good judgement.

I stand firmly in the camp of peace and I appreciate the deep sentiments that are expressed in your statement.It is almost shabbos so I will stop now.

I hope we can turn to each other in the spirit of meaningful dialogue.Thank you.

sincerely,
(volunteer with the IDF on the Golan

**********************************

Just wanted to express my agreement with the words below.
Thank you.
Very best

**********************************

An extremely wise decision, in my opinion.

**********************************

I very much agree with this statement. I hpe it will be widely circulated both outside and inside the Jewish communty.

I have been getting many emails about the conflict, early all strongly biased. I have been countering each one with my own view – a copy of whichis below. I hope I have our agreement to add your statement when I send it out again.

**********************************

I think this is a good idea.

Is anyone organizing a Pro Peace rally?

**********************************

Dear hoaxer person

I will probably never know who you are, but you did a fantastic thing today! Thank you!! I was so excited when i thought it was real, but the hoax is nearly as good.

**********************************

Dear Sir/Madam

I am a British jew and I am writing to you to express my wholehearted congratulations on your brave decision.

It demonstrates great moral courage to have taken this important step at a time when Israel’s actions have become so inexcusably barbaric toward the Palestinians and you rightly point out that it would not be positive for the British jewish community to be seen supporting such wanton and brutal taking of innocent life by the IDF in Gaza.

Let us join together in hoping that the Israeli government sees sense and, as you say, chooses the path of peaceful resolution rather than the seemingly hopeless and endless cycle of tit-for-tat revenge and carnage.

**********************************

am amazed and delighted to receive this mailing. Thank you, and I honour your decision

**********************************

You have made a wise decision to cancel the demonstration, and your reasoning is clear and admirable.

**********************************

I welcome your decision to, which I believe is a wise and important stand against the violence taking place in Gaza, and I thank you for your statement that war is not a path to peace.

**********************************

Congratulations! you have fulfilled the hopes of your constituents.

. Just as the Lord welcomes repentant sinners, so do we! Shabbat shalom and yayasher koachechem.

**********************************

WE SUPPORT OUR GOVERNMENT AND DON’T CARE WHAT YOU OR THE REST OF THE WORLD SAY. WE ARE GOING TO STOP HAMAS AND YOU CAN TAKE YOUR “NEGOTIATIONS’ AND STUFF THEM. UNTIL HAMAS STOPS FIRING ROCKETS – NO NEGOTIATIONS!

**********************************

What is wrong with you!!! lot. There is only one God and you are his people. Take a tour of Israel and get the real facts and don’t be deceived. I feel sorry for you. I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you. They don’t want to be at peace with you. Get real

**********************************

have you no shame or pride? Can you remain silent at a time when almost one million residents of Israel are subject to the depradations of a terrorist organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel? Have you learned nothing from history? Shades of the 1930s!!

“…if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while [Heaven forbid] you and your father’s house will perish.” (Esther 4.14)

**********************************

I have just been informed that the report of the cancellation of the of the demonstration was erroneous.

I withdraw my remarks and apologize,unreservedly, for the view expressed in my previous email.

**********************************

Thank you on behalf of the moderates within the Jewish community for presenting a reasonable response to the Gaza crisis. I mean, no one in their right mind can honestly dispute the sentiment laid out in the UN resolution. Perhaps you were a little too partisan in the cancellation email for the mainstream palate – hence the extremist accusations. And I would caution against this next time in order to appear genuine. But a good thought nonetheless.

**********************************

You stepped way over the mark in suggesting that the demonstration was off. The right to collectively demonstrate and peacefully exclaim one’s views is fundamental within democratic systems. Your email was an attempt to prevent people from exercising that right by means of trickery.

**********************************

Brothers and sisters,

i knew it was you, still my heart really felt relief by reading those soulful words, you’re so right about the T.I.Z.

I want to congratulate you for your deeply inspired message and the wize way you spreaded it.

Thank you for your action, it is so necessary to speak up outside of the usual supporters/traitors speeches.

Our collective Neshama desesperatly needs us to elevate beyond fear and hypocrisy, and this can be done only throught uniting our discordant voices outside of “representative” judaism.

Here in Barcelona too we must act now, soon i go back a few days to France and the situation there is terrible, antisemitism isnt just an excuse it’s straight hate in the streets now, and i feel we definitly have to take a stand: nor with the wolves, nor with the lambs, our humanity must prevail, our soul must shout out. Writing, raping, however. But i stay mute. I dont know who’s reading this mail, but if you feel what i say you’ll understand what i need are a few words of support not to feel alone and to grow the courage to speak up, i still lack the determination to do so but as you do in your country here too we have to do it now.

Thank you again for the examplarity of your action and for letting the other jews know that we’re not alone and that the bush of our love for humanity is still burning. One love

**********************************

Although I agree with the sentiments expressed in your e-mail and say a big “yasher-koyekh” to the “yidishe bokhrim un meydlekh” who wrote it, I would just like to draw your attention to one little detail : A “dvar aher” (or “dover akher” in Yiddish” is not at all “another path” – that would be “derekh aheret” – but while literally meaning “that other thing”, it is really a euphemism for a pig ! Probably not quite what you wanted to offer the Jewish community with your message for peace !…

Mit gor vareme grusn (with very warm wishes),

**********************************

Jewdas sound like my sort of thinkers!

Creative, playful and for peace.

Please include me on your future email list.

**********************************

Sorry but you guys (or is it just 1 or 2s guy at Jewdas)? seemed to have moved way beyond your original remit of alternative satire and into serious political debate. On this partic issue I disagree profoundly with your view, but the main prob I have is with your method here. Please remove me from your mailing list

**********************************

I didn’t realise quite how clever Jewdas were! They managed to do a poll and so, build up a data base! What the JC doesn’t tell you, is about the positive responses they received, which shows that many Jews would prefer the BoDs took a peaceful rather than war-mongering stance….

Even if they didn’t disrupt this war rally, Jewdas have rally got the community thinking.

**********************************

Share unto the nationsTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

Kibitzen

  1. Reclaiming Chanukah Through Direct Action « jewdas

    […] white sea floods Trafalgar Square in the centre of London. This was the scene Jewdas had infamously cancelled. Upon a stage in front of Nelson’s Column stands the British Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. […]

Leave a Reply