B’nai B’rith Director and now Deputy Jeremy Havardi hopes to make a real contribution in areas where B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies are both active. And as he explains, there is a significant overlap in the interests and aims of the two organisations.
Jeremy, whose background is as a historian and writer on Jewish issues, feels that becoming a Deputy has been a natural fit for him. “I’m doing advocacy for Jewish causes, fighting against antisemitism, research related to Israel and the Middle East and advocacy against anti-Zionism and for Israel, plus support for minorities. So there’s a congruence of values and aims between the Board and B’nai B’rith.”
The concerns which he highlights are ones which will be familiar to most in the community. “We’re worried about rising antisemitism, particularly from the left, the mainstreaming of antisemitic anti-Zionism on campus and on the geopolitical front. I’ve raised a lot of concerns about UNRWA and issues of antisemitism in the educational curriculum being taught to Palestinians. I do think there’s a great deal of communal support for speaking out forthrightly when anti-Israel narratives rear their head.”
He also sees his role as a Deputy as a chance to promote B’nai B’rith, an organisation which has played a prominent part in Jewish history. “We’ve been going since 1843 so we’re very established. People will know about the Anti-Defamation League which is an offshoot of B’nai B’rith and many in the community have been through our youth organisation BBYO. We do a lot of work in aid, raising money to get refugees out of Ukraine. The other big part of what we do is advocacy, which is the function of the B’nai Brith Bureau of International Affairs and as Director I’m heavily involved in that.”
Jeremy’s background is in academia. “I have taught history and written about history for a long time. I have a particular interest in Jewish, modern European history and the history of the Middle East. So that has informed my outlook, my perspective and my set of interests.”
If Jeremy’s academic interests are wide, this is reflected in his hobbies, which include table tennis and flute. There is also regular drama improvisation, which should stand him in good stead at future Plenary meetings.
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