Jewish Aid Committee of Britain

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The CST gives the following account:

By the time the 1970s came around, the far right was still very much a danger but the broader political context for anti-fascism had changed. Meanwhile the Jewish community faced a growing threat of terrorism connected to the Middle East that required a different approach to communal security. Gerald Ronson takes up the story in his memoir:
“I became chief fund-raiser for the 62 Group – we needed money not just to run the organisation but to pay fines – so I had some say about how it was run and what we should be doing. By now, however, I was beginning to think that being hooligans to fight hooligans wasn’t the smartest way we could fight the enemy. I knew I was dealing with a bunch of loonies, but I was thinking that we needed to beat the enemy by being more sophisticated than them. That meant setting up a new organisation. It had to be more than 200 well-meaning tough boys behaving in an undisciplined fashion. It had to look for long-term solutions and I felt that the greater Jewish community in Britain should fund it.”
This led to the formation of various groups to organise and fund this work, including the Jewish Aid Committee Of Britain (JACOB); the Group Relations Educational Trust (GRET); the Community Security Organisation of the Board of Deputies; and, finally, the Community Security Trust. The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX) played a vital role for many years.[1]

Cohen writes:

Copsey described how the Jewish Aid Committee of Britain (jacob), which advocated for the 62 Group, attacked the perceived timidity and inaction of the Board on the basis of lessons from the past: his sources reveal that this argument centred on the Holocaust.[2]


The Board engaged with the question of the Holocaust as antifascist motivation in its response to jacob. This organisation was formed by 62 Group members, marking an attempt by that movement to explain its cause, advocate for arrested members and finance their legal costs, and generally win respect in the wider Jewish community. The Board took particular issue with the JACOB publication With a Strong Hand (1966), which criticized the Board’s defence work and urged Jews to remember the lessons of the Holocaust as motivation for a militant response to the British far right. jacob employed the by-then already contested victim trope of Jews meeting their fate ‘like lambs to the slaughter’ to argue that this time, Jews must be combative. The Board retorted that this idea implicitly put blame on the innocent victims ‘instead of exclusively on the murderers’. It refuted historical comparison between Germany in 1933 and Britain in 1966; jacob’s call to resist renewed extermination was, according to the Board, disproportionate and self-defeating: ‘The “aid” committee should also realise that the Britain of 1966 is neither the Weimar Republic nor Germany of 1933. It should free itself from the habit of deliberately exaggerating the size and influence of fascist groups. That these exist at all is bad enough; but it is foolish to go on crying wolf all the time.’61 This argument demonstrated the extent to which Jewish antifascism fragmented over the legacy and relevance of the Holocaust for communal defence in the mid-1960s.
Despite the aversion to Holocaust analogy revealed in its argument with jacob, the threat of the nsm did resonate with the Board as a warning from history. [2]

See also