My politics are Israeli politics and a lot of the discourse that takes place in the UK, also takes place in Israel. Dinner tables, ‘ul ha esh’ (BBQ), restaurant gatherings, pubs, coffee shops or even in a taxi, these are all places where vibrant and agitated political disagreements take place. Everyone in Israel is a budding Prime Minister.
So let us not pretend for a moment that the ‘annexation’ or ‘reclamation’ isn’t divisive. Israel arrives at this point after a long road has been travelled, and the decisions being made now are the result of decades of political struggles and the failure of peace talks.
Which means that when a few hundred kids in the British Jewish diaspora write a letter begging the Board of Deputies to represent them and speak out – we should listen – right? Wrong.
The BOD letters
The activists on the left are good at writing letters. Lots of names quickly appear. Most Jewish, some not. Many chose to sign – and there are others who had their names added to the list without permission by their friends. But still, several hundred of our Jewish youth signed a letter to the BOD.
The letter makes a few key mistakes.
Firstly, it suggests that if the BOD fail to speak out against annexation, it will be in violation of the Board’s own constitution. The letter then links to a constitution that makes NO mention of a two state solution at all. The legal standing is all in their heads.
Secondly, there is a hypocritical element to this. The signees want the board to speak out and represent them. But if the BOD does speak out and represent them, then the BOD will not be representing anyone else. The letter doesn’t demand an acknowledgement of their position – it demands an occupation of the BOD’s voice. They want the BOD to look, act and think like them – and nobody else. They are demanding the BOD become the mouthpiece of these left-wing activist groups.
Finally, the letter suggests that the annexation of the Jordan Valley is the end of a two state solution. This is absolute bunkum and was a scare tactic used to gain signatures. The use of terms like ‘viable’ is meaningless raw Palestinian propaganda. The letter even goes on to suggest Israel cannot be both democratic and Jewish if it annexes all of the territory. But that isn’t even on the table. Israel is not annexing all of the territory. What is being discussed is some strategic land along the Jordanian border and the small number of Palestinians inside – will be offered citizenship. None of this means there will be no future Palestinian state.
When did our youth completely leave the Israeli Zionist spectrum and become part of the Palestinian propaganda machine? And how did this happen?
Left wing propagandists jump on situations such as this and use them as a recruitment tool. Groups such as Yachad probably don’t believe for a minute that the BOD will actually make that statement. But it creates an illusion through which they present themselves as the legitimate voice of the young – as hard-left organisations always do.
Yachad’s political positions include dividing Jerusalem, negotiating with Hamas and labelling settlement products. They opposed the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Yachad’s position is that everything must be decided through negotiated settlement. All of it. If Israel is to do anything they have to have the agreement of the Palestinians. However, when the Palestinians do something, for example when they seek international recognition as a state, Yachad supports the move.
Yachad’s mirror on the left is not with any of the parties that would sit in the current government. It is Meretz. The same Meretz who no longer define themselves as Zionists and need to align with other parties at election time to ensure they pass the minimum threshold. Meretz currently have just three members of Parliament. Yachad meet up with all those NGOs that the fringe Israeli peace groups meet up with. They worship B’tselem, Breaking the silence and others of similar ilk. Their Twitter feed shares the rants of anti-Zionists who write for 972 magazine. This week they are hosting an event with a representative of the PA who has suggested Jews ‘fabricate’ the story of the Holocaust.
Another group called ‘Na’amod’ is the fallout from some of Yachad’s youth wanting to say Kaddish for Hamas terrorists. When Yachad realised the political cost of supporting them publicly, Yachad left them to stand alone. Feeling abandoned and without a voice – they created a new group – Na’amod. It straddles Zionist / non-Zionist politics. A holding of the hands if you like between the fringe group Yachad and the fringe group Jewdas.
These groups politically wish to tie Israel’s hands. Israel cannot move unless it is in the framework of a negotiated two state solution. Anyone who disagrees with them is labelled a far-right extremist by a handful of delusional online supporters. Another far-left strategy.
The negotiated two state solution
Between the Israeli left wing electoral victory in 1992 and their devastating electoral collapse in 2008 the vision of Oslo (the negotiated two-state solution) fell apart. When Israelis were slaughtered in the violence – they stopped believing. When the Palestinians REFUSED to sign a deal, the Israelis realised they had been conned. These days at election time, the issue isn’t even on the agenda. The question for Israelis is not ‘how do we make peace with the Palestinians’, but rather ‘as the Palestinians are not capable of making peace with us – what do we do’.
Those parties who firmly push a negotiated two-state settlement are no longer part of mainstream discourse. They have been firmly discredited. The notion that the split Palestinian factions could somehow present Israel with a viable partner is the stuff of Narnian tales. For the time being it is no longer mainstream Zionist policy.
It has nothing to do with what you would want to happen, or whether you wish there to be a Palestinian state. Israel is navigating an environment in which there is no partner. At no point did the Palestinians EVER give up their right of return and they still seek the eventual destruction of Israel. Their ‘rights’ might not really exist, but no Palestinian leader can sign them away and survive. Those on the left who think differently are not paying attention.
So when groups like Yachad suggest Israel cannot do anything but negotiate a final settlement – they are saying Israelis MUST make a deal with the conman. If Israel doesn’t – then the representative of British Jews should speak out loudly against them. This is the message in the letter from our youth.
The shame of our Jewish community
For much of the 1990s the British Jewish political spectrum aligned with the Israeli political spectrum. When the violence started we came out in sympathy. Eventually, through the security fence and the containment of Hamas, Israel managed to bring the terrorism under control. Since the 2006 Lebanon war, the northern border has been relatively calm.
100000s of rockets are pointed at Israeli cities, the PA are scared of elections because of Hamas and the Iranian threat has rarely loomed as large. But on a day-to-day basis, Israelis are not dying in numbers anymore.
Which means the political vision of our Jewish youth is shaped AFTER 2010. The reference points are not the Lebanon war, the Second Intifada or the failed Oslo process, but rather Israeli actions in Gaza. Their opponents in university hold up images of dead babies and they have no answer to them. Instead they mumble the rhetoric given to them by our community organisations. They respond with nonsense about a ‘viable two state solution’. No wonder we were losing debates. Our community organisations no longer represent any serious faction in Zionist Israeli politics. To support Mick Davis following his recent article, Jewish News needed the old head of Meretz, Zahava Galon to do it. This is where our institutions publicly align now. Somewhere around Meretz.
This is our shame. Our doing. How did we let this happen?
Where do we sit now? What happened?
The current coalition is a national unity coalition. It comprises the Likud and the centrist Blue and White Party, sitting with a couple of allies from the Labour Party. It has an impressive majority. Such as union should find widespread support in the UK Jewish establishment. The only semi-significant Jewish voice on the left not in the coalition is Yair Lapid. Outside of Meretz none of the parties support dividing Jerusalem, none support giving up the Jordan Valley and whilst some give lip service to theoretical negotiations, none are emphatically behind the Oslo vision anymore. Not one.
As Meretz no longer calls itself a Zionist party. There is absolutely NO Zionist support in Israel for the 2SS of the Oslo Process. So just which Israel are these signatures asking the Board of Deputies to speak against? All of it? Every single Zionist party?
Israelis know the truth. They were there when Barak was rejected in 2000, they remember the failure of Olmert’s deal. They understand that the factional infighting in the Palestinian street leaves them without a partner. Why didn’t we follow them through these experiences?
When Muslim representative bodies enter Parliament, most don’t mince words. There is support for BDS, the Right of Return, Jerusalem to be taken away from Israel and so on. They are not shy. Our MPs on the one hand are hearing a persistent demonisation of Israel from constituents that dwarf the number of Jews in the UK. On the other, our representatives keep mumbling about a ‘viable negotiated settlement’ that isn’t realistic and few in Israel believe in.
The PSC, PRC, Amnesty – all of these groups are also inside Parliament. What is the best the Jewish organisations can do to counter the smear of ‘Apartheid, racist, colonial, genocidal, ethnic cleansing’? Is it really to offer support for a ‘two state negotiated settlement’ with a people that want to see you destroyed?
No wonder our youth live in Narnia. We let the Israelis walk on alone and we don’t even make sense to ourselves. Which organisational body is out there telling the truth – that the negotiated 2SS is currently dead – and Israel is looking for a way forward? Because this is what we should have been screaming for a decade. Like a drumbeat. Our children would have picked up the message.
Instead – they mumble about negotiated settlements. If this is what we have spent the last decade teaching our youth, this letter should come as no surprise to anyone.
These kids are a product of our schools, our synagogues and our youth groups. Rather than look to them for an explanation, we really need to turn our attention to the organisational bodies that are meant to teach them. For this letter is a catastrophic indictment of all of them.
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28 thoughts on “How the Jewish Diaspora let down its own children”
The student letter says:
“Hundreds of former Israeli generals of the Shin Bet, Police and Mossad have released a statement saying that this unilateral action is a ‘security nightmare’ for Israel.”
First of all I sat down and counted – I could not reach over about 60 at a maximum across the 3 services so to talk about “hundreds of generals” is a falsehood.
Secondly a far as I know neither Mossad nor the Shin Bet have military ranks so there are no generals here. Is that correct ?
The student letter is as vacuous and arrogant as it is incorrect.
I doubt that more that more than a minority of the signatories speak more than a few words of basic Hebrew.
I doubt that more than a few of the signatories have served in the IDF putting their lives at risk and spending years of their lives to defend the country.
I would be surprised if more than a handful vote in Israel and pay Israeli taxes.
I would be astonished if there were more than a minority whose families had blood on the sand.
And yet these students who overall cannot even speak the language, do not pay Israeli taxes, do not put their lives at risk for the country, do not live in the country and do not have blood on the sand, have the arrogance to think that it is their place to tell all those who do what to do.
100%. I hadn’t considered checking the ‘hundreds of former Israeli generals’ comment though – so thanks for that Michael. I should look at it closer.
As for the rest – of course you are right. And the worst part is if Israel were stupid enough to listen (which thankfully there are not) and were to do what these people wanted – and it all went horribly wrong – none of them would get on a plane, go over and fight to help clear up the mess. They’d just find a way to sit in the UK and whine about Israel’s reaction.
Michael, in the unlikely event that any of these organisations and their members were drawn to the attention of an Israeli, the response would probably be “who?” We have no regard for distant hecklers.
Breaking the Silence has been very useful though. Their existence and their bleatings to a diasporan audience, mostly of unattributable tales delivered behind a veil of anonymity caused the birth of My Truth. Their founder Matan Katzman has spoken at the EU Subcommittee on Human Rights and on campuses in Europe and the US. He and his colleagues provide factual, contextual testimony as reservist officers inside and outside Israel and are a scourge of BtS who are incapable of presenting counterpoint in rebuttal.
Unfortunately though, I fear that it may already be too late for many kids in diasporan communities.
Michael Stern… AKBAR!
“And yet these students who overall cannot even speak the language, do not pay Israeli taxes, do not put their lives at risk for the country, do not live in the country and do not have blood on the sand, have the arrogance to think that it is their place to tell all those who do what to do.”
Seems that Israel does NOT represent the majority of Jews who live elsewhere…. is it that the posters here are in a minority?
The majority of Irish people chose to live OUTSIDE of Ireland.
Does that fact negate the legitimacy of Ireland?
Happy Nakba Sharmuta!
Same too with “scots” who choose to out OUTSIDE of scotland.
Er, David. More of Edward’s SPAM.
Please warn him.
Sharmuta, I hope your family learns about how you dishonoured them. They will treat you accordingly.
You asleep, David?
Edward’s spamming on your blog. Off you go.
Sorry but I do not understand your point.
Jews everywhere have their own opinions which generally cover many alternatives.
Israel is the only Jewish state and therefore for want of an alternative represents Jews in an international diplomatic forum.
Israel is also the world’s largest national Jewish community and so may effectively represent a lot of Jewish opinion both inside and possibly outside of Israel on many issues. However that Israel formally “represents” the majority of Jews is incorrect.
For what it is worth the posters here IMHO do reflect the majority of Jewish opinion which is that Israel is an independent country whose existence needs no justification, which has started in poverty and under the continued threat of extermination, has produced a vibrant democracy where there is religious freedom, press freedom, human rights, gender equality, good healthcare (better than the UK in terms of results – check the Corona figures in terms of deaths per million, as an example) and is the only country in the Middle East where every peaceful Arab sect of whatever religion or denomination (Christian, Suni, Sh’ite, Yazidi, Bahai, Druze, Bedouin, Circassion etc ) can sleep safely at night.
What an achievement !
The letter appeared in the Jewish News.
I’m wondering which way this paper is going to go
I had quite a few issues with it before its financial travails
Will its rescuers influence its direction
I have been wondering whether a slide to the left might be the result of the recent rscue..
Absolutely. I wouldn’t have missed the JN much after noticing more and more left leaning articles in the recent past.
Great piece, David. But a quick clarification please.
My online search brought up two letters in google docs with no person or group named as the organisers. But have they both in reality been orchestrated by Yachad?
‘Communal youth letter to BOD: speak up against annexation’
‘Communal letter to BOD: speak up against annexation’
Hi Rachel it depends on what you mean. I cannot reveal exactly what I know about the chain, for fear of exposing sources – but I am not suggesting this is an open and official Yachad action. Their network of activists however remains instrumental in putting it out there.
“Yachad’s political positions include dividing Jerusalem, negotiating with Hamas and labelling settlement products. They opposed the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Yachad’s position is that everything must be decided through negotiated settlement. All of it. If Israel is to do anything they have to have the agreement of the Palestinians. However, when the Palestinians do something, for example when they seek international recognition as a state, Yachad supports the move.”
They sound a honourable bunch of folk.
Obviously opposed to Israel’s unilateral actions.
Jerusalem is NOT a part of Israel, nor Jordan, nor Palestine.
David, why are you opposed to labelling goods with their origin? Too truthful for you?
Michael, you ninny. You’re doing travel reviews again for places you’ve never been to.
I’ve been to Jerusalem loads of times. It’s definitely part of Israel.
Check it out when they next do the Eurovision Song Contest and they get the results in from all the capital cities. Ours is always from Jerusalem. Are you saying that the BBC is lying to us? Are you slurring Katie Boyle and Terry Wogan of blessed memory?
“I’ve been to Jerusalem loads of times. It’s definitely part of Israel.”. Lol
Another of Trump’s pupils. How’re the disinfection injections going, Ian?
That’s some star you follow.
Don’t fret Michael. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know where our capital is. There’s a lot you dont know.
Tel Aviv 2019
@Maleek tweets “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and I have nothing but love for the Jewish people and believe in their right to co-exist on the land I also call home. Therefore I am not anti-Zionist, but I am anti-violence, and that’s where I condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization.”
What has Israel got on this tweeter that he publishes such trash. House demolition will now be deferred?
AntiZionism is antisemitism?? Same flawed logic that David displays. @Maleek doesn’t want self-determination then?
C’est la guerre Michael. Bit of a piss off when one of yours comes over to us. Them’s the breaks.
To avoid disappointment, get better at it.
Sharmuta, Bleat about “Islamo-FAUX-bia”.
Happy 75th Anniversary of VE (Victory: Europe) day and Happy Nakba!
Yet more spam, David.
Spam produced in the illegal settlements?
you’ll notice that my only comment to you Mike, was about a link. A highly edited link. I even agreed you could post to the full video if you felt the desire. Pretending that somehow I should be limiting Edwards posts – whether I agree with them or not – would be censorship – something I thought you opposed.
The key question from both the link and the full video was whether you have ‘researched’ the Tory Party in your campaign … ” undercover researcher into anti-Zionism and antisemitism.”.The clip shows that to be misleading.
The clip shows that you have not and that you have no desire to. You only appear in a section of the full video.
You are caught on camera confirming that your attacks are on Labour only.
That Labour seek a two state solution and would not continue to appease Israel’s actions is obviously your reason to campaign against them with false and hateful smears.
I am not comparing scale or intent here but were I to repeatedly post “Happy Holocaust” on the site you WOULD censor.
I AM opposed to censorship. Let us see if David Collier is.
Incidentally, what is your record of exposing antisemitism in the Tory Party, David?
Do you have ANY record of doing that?
Sharmuta, what is your record of exposing antisemitism in the racist LaBOOR Party?
Do you have ANY record of doing that?
Why have so many people been booted out?
Comments are closed.