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Showing posts from January, 2009

THE BOARD OF DEPUTIES OF BRITISH JEWS AND THE BURTON BOOK

In his review [in the January 2009 Newsletter of the Jewish Historical Society of England] of my volume of essays Controversy and Crisis: Studies in the History of the Jews in Modern Britain (Academic Studies Press, 2008), Mr Raphael Langham discusses my account of a protracted dialogue that I had with the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the years 1985-88 stemming from my request to examine the so-called “Burton Book.” This document – an unpublished manuscript penned by the Victorian explorer Captain Sir Richard Burton, alleging that Jews used Christian blood for ritual purposes – had been purchased by the Board almost exactly one hundred years ago. Historians had not hitherto been granted access to it. In 1986 the incoming President of the Board, Dr Lionel Kopelowitz, wrote to me granting me permission to consult it. But almost at once this access was blocked, on grounds that had nothing to do with the manuscript, but which were related instead to public utterances I had made on…