British Jews boost engagement with Israel’s Arabs

This is a guest post by “Kubeh”.

Organizations from across the political spectrum have launched a new initiative to promote the UK Jewish community’s understanding of Israel’s Arab population.

The UK Task Force on Arab Citizens was established by a coalition bringing together groups who rarely share a public platform, including the Zionist Federation and New Israel Fund UK. Other groups putting their weight behind are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Pears Foundation, UJIA and UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives.

Israel has over 1 million Arabs citizens – that’s approximately 1 in 5 Israelis. At the time that British Jews are working to engage with Israel’s Arabs, Britain’s left-Muslim alliance continues with its attempt to boycott Israel’s Jews.

Co-chairs of the UK Task Force, Douglas Krikler chief executive of UJIA and Trevor Pears, executive chair of The Pears Foundation, said: “We are pleased to have established a broad based coalition of organizations supporting Israel which will help the Jewish community learn more about and play a proactive role in addressing issues facing Israel’s Arab citizens.”

Trevor Pears added: “According to senior Israeli figures, including [former] Supreme Court judge Theodore Orr, this is the most important domestic issue facing Israel. Therefore for those who are concerned about Israel’s stability, prosperity and security, we must find meaningful ways to engage.”

The UK Task Force will work in partnership with the North American Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues, set up by the North American Jewish community who are “…proud of the democratic, sovereign state of the Jewish people and support Israel’s Declaration of Independence including the article that promises social and political equality for all its inhabitants, Jews and Arabs alike.”

More from Jonny Paul in the Jerusalem Post.

The Guardian: “Israel is an arrogant nation”

Colin Shindler and Robert Fine on the nationalism of the editors of both the Jewish Chronicle and the Guardian

Colin Shindler’s letter in today’s Guardian:

“The mark of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself” sounds more like an irritated imperial satrap of a bygone era than a reasoned Guardian editorial about the Mossad (24 March). Why nation and not government? Everybody? Does this include the Israeli peace camp, as well as those Israelis who held doctored British passports? Since many Israeli Arabs consider themselves to be members of the Palestinian nation, does this arrogance really only apply to Israeli Jews? What about those British Jews who define their Jewishness by their ethnicity? Would this attribution of collective responsibility have been applied to any other national group? Exuding patriotic indignation and resorting to spitting imagery about Jews per se aligns the Guardian with reactionaries.

Professor Colin Shindler

Soas, University of London

Robert Fine’s letter in yesterday’s Guardian:

The editor of the Jewish Chronicle writes (Comment, 19 March) of the Palestinians seeking a pretext to block negotiations with the Israelis so that Israel is further delegitimised internationally. What he neglects is that the building of these homes exclusively for Jewish Israelis is aimed at placating and supporting the most fundamentalist elements of Israeli society. There is not only a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but a battle between those who believe in a mixed, tolerant and non-racial society, and the forces of ultra-nationalism in both Israel and Palestine. We have the same battle against ultra-nationalism in Europe. We have the same need to renew our political language to recognise political pluralism across and within camps.

Professor Robert Fine

University of Warwick