British Jewish Board of Deputies President to Meet Vladimir Putin

Jonathan Arkush

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews will travel to Moscow and meet Vladimir Putin next week as part of a delegation of European Jewish leaders.

Jonathan Arkush (pictured) will be part of a delegation of key communal figures from across the continent in the Russian capital. The group will be led by Russian businessman and philanthropist Moshe Kantor, head of the European Jewish Congress.

Jewish News reports relations between Russia and the international community had been strained over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, with several rounds of sanctions imposed by the US and Europe, and most recently by its approach to the Syrian conflict and the future of Assad.

Mr. Arkush said: “I understand that President Putin has asked to meet a delegation of European Jewish community leaders.”

Mr. Putin,  an ally of Bashar Assad, joined military strikes in Syria last year – and strenuously denied his military was targeted civilian and US-backed rebel targets as well as IS.

While he believes Assad has made “many mistakes”, he said it is primarily the fault of insurgents and foreign supporters rather than of Assad when civilians are harmed in the raging conflict.

Just last month Putin and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly resolved to coordinate efforts to tackle terror, which reportedly includes measures to prevent air incidents between the two countries over Syria.

As for Mr. Arkush, the visit comes at a critical time for Jews in modern Britain.

There are 263,346 Jews in England and Wales according to the last census although due to the voluntary nature of the question on faith and under-reporting, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research estimates that the actual figure is 284,000.

There has been a dramatic 61 per cent increase in anti-Semitic hate crime in the UK capital over the past 12 months according to the latest statistics released by London’s Metropolitan Police.

A total of 483 anti-Semitic crimes were committed up until November 2015, up from 299 crimes in the same period in 2014.

As Breitbart London has reported, rising anti-Semitic attacks in London during 2015 are mirrored across the rest of Europe, but this is the first time figures have been released to back what various media outlets once dismissed as a minor problem compared to so-called Islamophobia.

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