Jews and Gypsies unite in effort to beat ‘obscene’ levels of hate


The Board of Deputies said it would be “stand in solidarity” with the groups on shared interests and to combat “obscene” levels of hostility.

The joint meeting between Jewish, Gypsy and traveller groups in Leeds (Photo: Board of Deputies)

The Jewish community will work more closely with Gypsy and traveller groups on issues including hate crime and Holocaust remembrance.

Following a series of meetings in Leeds, the Board of Deputies said it would be “stand in solidarity” with the groups on shared interests and to combat “obscene” levels of hostility.

Among the topics which will be tackled together are human rights issues and welfare concerns.

Marie van der Zyl, Board vice-president, said Gypsy and traveller groups were “working hard for the empowerment of their communities”.

She added: “Because of our history – like that of the Gypsy, Roma and traveller communities – the Jewish community is acutely aware of where racial prejudice can lead us.

“In 2017, racism remains a stain on our society, and we’re here today to say we stand in solidarity with other minority groups, who are facing obscene levels of hostility.”

Ms van der Zyl led a Board delegation alongside members of the René Cassin charity and Leeds Jewish Representative Council at the sessions in Leeds last week.

They visited the Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (Gate) to discuss housing issues, healthcare, education and employment among Roma people.

Helen Jones, Gate chief executive, said her charity was “really excited” to be developing links with British Jews.

“Whilst some of our common ground is inevitably our experiences of being demonised, excluded and subject to hate, what is really exciting to explore is our shared experiences of promoting human rights, peace building and resilience,” she said.

Mia Hasenson-Gross, René Cassin director, said: “It’s been an extremely positive few days. We have tragic historic ties as well as shared current and pressing issues such as rising hate crime.

“These are best tackled through building strong relationships and an understanding of the experiences of our respective communities. We look forward to building on these meetings.”

Simon Phillips, from the Rep Council, said the communities had “so much in common – the importance of family, a pride in culture, heritage and history and a commitment to challenging and tackling hate crime, racism and prejudice.

“The Jewish community have always had a strong belief in supporting the rights of minorities and we thank Rene Cassin for reminding us of our responsibilities for tikkun olam, the ‘healing of the world’.”

Marcus Dysch