Friday 21 October 2011

British Jewish leadership is bad for Israel.

In Britain, yet another positive pro-Israel initiative is being blocked by the leadership of British Jewry.
The Big Tent, an event being organized in Manchester, has been attacked by the very people who should be getting behind this event.  One of the excuses given for their lack of involvement is a suspected lack of pluralism, though invitations have gone to the Reform movement as well as to pro-Israel Christians and Muslims.
While they find a limp excuse for not backing this strongly pro-Israel advocacy event, they have been sponsoring another group doing research into the status of Arabs in Israel.  
By showing that Arab women are a smaller percentage of the workforce than Jewish women they attempt to highlight the inequality within Israeli society. Of course, they make no mention of the fact that a far higher number of Israeli Arab women are employed in Israel than in all other Arab countries. Neither do they highlight that Arab women are restricted in their desire to work outside the home by still-existing Arab traditions. Why should they? Doing so would reduce the intent to which the research was required. To find an angle to attack, rather than support, Israel.
Looking for angles with which to attack Israel seems popular with Britain’s Jewish leadership. Now I hear that Yachad, a new NGO in Britain even further to the left than JStreet, has the backing of British Jewish leadership. 
Yachad just made a visit to Israel and guess which place took their strongly pro-Israel attention?  East Jerusalem. 
Yes, this location, which is intended by the Palestinian leadership to become their future capital, takes preference for Yachad than all other critical issues for Israel. 
Speaking as an Israel, I can announce that Yachad does not speak in my name. Why should it speak in the name of the leadership of British Jews?  It is so clear to me that the prefix “pro” cannot be used before “Israel” by Yachad. So why is the London-based leadership getting into bed with them, while throwing out Manchester initiators?
Pluralism, it seems, is excellent if you can put an anti-Israel spin on it. Pluralism, it seems, is excellent if pluralism means lining up with Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, and left wingers. I am trying to discover if notable and real pro-Israeli personalities like Melanie Phillips or Douglas Murray have ever been invited to address an audience at one of the leadership bodies Israel events, if they have ever had any.
Maybe the bio of Vivien Wineman expresses clearly what is happening in Britain, and why London has become the hub of radical anti-Israel hatred and the delegitimisation campaign.  Wineman recently said in a report quoted in the Jewish Chronicle that the Jewish leadership “has access to the British Government but doesn’t have influence.”  I suppose we Israelis should be thankful that they are so totally ineffective. I would hate the think what influence they would employ when headed by someone who was the British chairman of Peace Now and founder of Britain’s New Israeli Fund, two virulent NGOs that have done more to hack away at the defense and security of Israelis than many pro-Palestinian groups. 
He is currently serving as President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and also the Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council.  Add to this role call his position as Vice Chairman of the European Jewish Congress and you can see how deep-rooted and influential his critical attitude to Israel really is.
Many of those following him into leadership positions echo his political leaning. Maybe that helps them get elected?
Is it any wonder why AIPAC failed to unite America and Britain behind Israel. They gave up on the British leadership after six frustrating years of trying to create a common front against the delegitimisation of Israel. They failed. They are concerned. They, like Israel, see London as the hub of the demonization and delegitimisation campaigns and the centre of radicalism against Israel. They also see a Jewish leadership that appears to line up against Israel rather than stand solidly with the Jewish state. 
They are concerned because they are experiencing blowback from England into America as the anti-Israel extremism, even the type that is disguised as “healthy criticism of Israel” make inroads onto their campuses and debating chambers, and through operators such as JStreet.
It is heartening to see the rapid growth of grassroots, young, organizations such as Stand With Us, British Israel Coalition, and Israel Connect. Hopefully, the future rests on the shoulders of these enthusiastic activists. These are the campaigners who got people onto the streets of London recently in support of Israel, and in the face of the Palestinian demonstrators.  These are the people who are fighting the hard fight on the campus and in the social media. These are the people who are using the language and words that will bring the broad middle ground back to the justice of the Israeli cause.
I strongly recommend that the rank and file Jew in Britain give their hard earned money to these people, rather than to the leadership that has let them, and Israel, down so badly in recent years.
Barry Shaw is the author of ISRAEL – RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE.

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