Following remarks by The National Secular Society’s Executive Director on LBC Radio last week about government’s attempts to close Jewish faith schools, leading UK haredi community figure Rabbi Avrohom Pinter has called on Mr. Porteous Wood to resign his position.
Wood claimed the classic anti-Semitic trope that ‘there is a very, very strong Jewish Lobby which actually undermines – of which the government appear to be frightened – and allows the rule of law to be undermined.’
Pinter - a haredi rabbi who lives in Stamford Hill, London, acts as a spokesman for the Orthodox Jewish community, represents haredi interests on the London Jewish Forum, and is also a school principal - responded by noting the "blatant anti-Semitism" in that statement.
"The National Secular Society has now moved from promoting a secular lifestyle to blatant antisemitism," Pinter said. "With Mr Porteous Wood at its CEO, the NSS can no longer claim any form of legitimacy in the political sphere when we know their opinions are based on prejudice and hate."
"We have long wondered what fascinated the NSS about Jewish schools," he continued. "We now know that their bias is against Jews and not schools. I trust that Government ministers and the media will take this on board when analyzing NSS campaigns in future."
“There are some very decent people associated with the NSS and although we don’t see eye to eye on many matters, I am sure that a number of the NSS’s Honorary Associates will wish to cease their association with an organization run by an individual who is actively promoting classic anti-Semitic myths and stereotypes," he added. "I will be writing all the NSS’s Honorary Associates later today.”
The exchange is the latest controversy surrounding an investigation into Department for Education officials in the UK, who are accused of shredding documents and evidence surrounding "illegal Jewish schools" - haredi institutions where students are allegedly subject to 14-hour school days and substandard education. Jewish leaders have insisted that reports of abuse at haredi schools are false.
Since 2008 it has been illegal under UK law to run an unregistered school. Jewish community leaders have called for the schools to “get legal."