More than 300 people attended the NIF Independence Day debate with NIF President, and former Speaker of the Knesset Naomi Chazan, chaired by Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland at the New North London Synagogue. Responders were Board of Deputies President Vivian Wineman, Bicom CEO Lorna Fitzsimons and UJIA Chief Executive Doug Krikler.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of NNL warmly welcomed the community to one of the first events in their newly built synagogue.
Naomi Chazan discussed the changing face of the Middle East, and the development of a civil society in these regions, emphasising Israel's need for a two state solution following the probable recognition of a Palestinian State by the UN in September.
"This coming year is going to be the most important year in Israel's history because of the many things happening both internally and in the region,” emphasised Chazan. “I am an optimist, Israelis have the capacity to not only survive these challenging times, but thrive. As Israel responds to these changes we need to remember that its strength comes from being the homeland of the Jews and a democratic state. It is not a choice of one or the other - the contemporary challenge of all who care about Israel today is to make the two work together."
She talked about the important work of the NIF in helping to build and maintain Israel's civil society, which is a cornerstone of democracy.
"We were delighted by the tremendous turn out for the occasion and the liveliness of the debate. We are very keen for people to engage with debate on Israel, particularly the younger members of our community," said NIF Chairman Nicholas Saphir.
Picture caption: NIF President Naomi Chazan with responders BoD President Vivian Wineman, Bicom CEO Lorna Fitzsimons and UJIA Chief Executive Doug Krikler at the NIF Yom Atzmaut Debate.
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