From our Chief Executive: October 2018

During my time spent with family, friends and communities during the Chagim (Jewish festivals), I was struck by how often people commented to me that these are ‘tough times’, citing the Nation-State Law and other political developments in Israel as well as the current environment in the UK.

NIF is made for these ‘tough times’. The powerful vision that we share – as a committed partnership of Israelis and diaspora Jews – stands us in good stead. It allows us to continue our work on the ground in Israel, generating positive change whatever the political climate. Over the summer our efforts placed us once again in the spotlight, not least in our work opposing the Nation State Law and standing up for Israel’s values of democracy and shared society. When NIF’s decisive call for mobilisation and solidarity in response to the Law provoked attacks, we saw many leading figures in Israel, not least former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, speaking up for NIF and donating to our work.

In the UK, we believe our strong and powerful message can help the community steer its course. I would characterise the current debate around Israel in the UK as a combination of four disparate and competing approaches. The first suggests Israel is always right, the second that Israel can only do wrong. The third – and many ways the most concerning – is the ‘it’s too complex so I am walking away’ reaction.

NIF is proud to represent a fourth approach, which I would describe as a commitment to Israel without fear of criticising when needed. This approach is certainly not the easy option. It is not a position of absolutisms (right/wrong) and it requires us to grapple with the issues rather than passively walking away. However, it is the optimistic path: it speaks to the truth on which Israel was founded and in which its future lies – namely that support for Israel cannot be blind to its realities or its challenges, whilst criticism of Israel must be justified and be tempered by genuine concern.

As we enter the Jewish New Year, we re-affirm our approach with the knowledge that the partnership of Israelis and supporters of Israel worldwide that we represent is more crucial and more relevant than ever.

 

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