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Board of Deputies of British Jews holds landmark meeting on the Rock

Some 115 members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews are on the Rock this weekend to show their “respect, affection and admiration” to Gibraltar’s Jewish community.

For President of the Board of Deputies Jonathan Arkush, hosting a board meeting in Gibraltar has been a “long held ambition”.

Tomorrow’s board meeting will focus on the anti-Semitism allegations facing the Labour Party in the UK.

During their weekend stay the members look forward to experiencing first-hand the Jewish community of Gibraltar, with attendance surpassing initial expectations.

“Gibraltar is well known for its extraordinary community and the UK Jewish community widely respects and appreciates it and wanted to see it for themselves,” Mr Arkush said.

Governor Lieutenant General Edward Davis will be attending the Sabbath afternoon meal today and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo will address the board meeting tomorrow morning.

“We are here to show our respect, affection and admiration for the Jewish contribution to Gibraltar,” Mr Arkush said.

“I can’t think of another territory where Jewish people have contributed in such numbers. I walk along the street here and you can see visibly there is a significant Jewish presence here.”

“We know Jews have risen to the senior levels of Government here to be distinguished Chief Ministers, and it is a bit legendary in the UK Jewish Community.”

Mr Arkush will be meeting UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn this Tuesday where he will put to him the recent allegations of anti-Semitism.

“The community’s patience ran out three weeks ago as on a daily basis we had anti-Semitism stories and there was even a debate on UK Parliament about it,” Mr Arkush told reporters.

“This is where we’ve got to and we’re not happy.”

Mr Arkush said Mr Corbyn told the Deputies he wants to be their “militant ally” against anti-Semitism.

The Board of Deputies set out actions they hope Mr Corbyn accepts, in what they expect will be a “difficult conversation”.

These actions include anti-Semitism themes that must be rejected and someone coming out with these remarks must be disciplined with an independent Ombudsman, Mr Arkush explained.

He added he wants the Labour party to reaffirm that it accepts an international government document called the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

If he does not accept these actions the meeting would have “failed”, said Mr Arkush.

“I hope he will understand that if he wants these stories to stop he’s got to change the culture.”

“Even if it is only out of self-preservation or the electoral appeal of Labour, he has got to take this action even if he does not undergo some personal conversion on the road to Damascus.”

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