From Our Chief Executive May 2018
Last weekend we held our day-long conference to mark Israel 70.
Our intention was not only to celebrate Israel’s 70th year, but to create a space for some thought-provoking and challenging discussion on how far Israel has come in 70 years, and how far it still has to go.
The event touched on some of the most critical issues facing Israel from its geopolitical landscape, to the state of its democracy, to the crucial relationship between Diaspora Jewry and Israel. We were pleased to bring over fresh voices from Israel who stand up for the values we cherish through their activism and their art.
For me, this seemed an apt way for NIF to contribute to our community’s Israel 70 activities. Our work is deeply rooted in Israel and Israeli society and our commitment to promoting its values of democracy and equality means that we are never afraid to bring difficult issues to the fore.
This approach and more importantly the work it inspires can be criticised – whether by Prime Minister Netanyahu for our campaign to help Israelis to say no to forced deportation of those seeking asylum, or by those based in the UK who take to social media to decry our efforts.
However, what his criticism remind us is that our work is both relevant and essential. If it were not, it would not garner the attention and publicity that it does, nor would it see increasing numbers of Israelis as well as British Jews supporting us.
When Israel was founded 70 years ago, it was founded with a vision, as enshrined in a Declaration of Independence. It is a document and a moment of history which I, personally, have been inspired by from my earlier days in a Zionist youth movement to now. The inspiration, in large part, comes from its framers setting lofty aspirations and attempting to take into account a complex reality at a moment when war waged against the very existence of a Jewish homeland.
What Israel’s Declaration of Independence aspires to is what NIF is working to achieve now, and I am both proud and privileged to have the opportunity to support Israelis working to realise those values.
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