By Ben LEIBOWITZ, LJY-Netzer.
The aim of the ‘Sign on the Green Line’ campaign is simple – to get Jewish institutions across the country to use maps of Israel that include the (pre-1967) Green Line.
This request, however, has clearly struck a chord with the Jewish community. Seven days ago, 16 young Jewish people from diverse backgrounds, aged between 17 and 24, launched a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a vision.
A week later and the campaign has garnered vast volumes of press attention, exploded across the Twittersphere and other social media forums and is being discussed feverishly in university J-Socs up and down the country.
If the aim of this campaign is simple, the rationale and impetus behind the campaign is even bolder in its simplicity. This is a call on the Jewish community to educate with integrity.
With a dual belief in firstly the power of maps in shaping our conscious and subconscious perspectives, and secondly the necessity of the Green Line to an accurate portrayal of Israel, we aim to get every Jewish institution in the country to pledge to educate with maps that clearly show the Green Line.
This is not a political statement. This is not an imposition of borders, nor is this 16 young people who think we have found the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is a call to be educated with consistency, accuracy and integrity. There is little controversial about marking the Green Line on a map. Indeed, the maps on the website of the Israeli government and maps used by organisations such as BICOM, already appreciate the necessity of its use.
There is, clearly, in both the eyes of the international community – for which the line is used to demarcate two separate areas of land in the absence of a peace deal –and in the eyes of the Israeli government, which has never annexed the West Bank and does not, therefore, see the West Bank (minus the exception of East Jerusalem) as legally part of sovereign Israel – a need for this line in an accurate portrayal of the complex realities of the Israeli-Palestinian situation today.
The failure to use maps that include this line risks not only betraying a bias as to whom the land is seen to belong but, most importantly, fails to educate with accuracy and honesty.
There has been widespread support for the campaign from across the British Jewish community, and in general there has been an appreciation of the reasoned logic and cogent call the campaign has made.
There have, however, been a few notable, and troubling, exceptions, noted in this newspaper last week. The campaign has been called “silly” by one Jewish leader, with another claiming we need an injection of “sanity”.
These comments were not supported by reasoned statements or argument, but were knee-jerk reactions displaying an immaturity which we, as campaigners with an average age of 20, understand we would not be able to get away with.
It is a puzzling and, indeed, slightly disconcerting day when young Jews engage, with lucidity and intelligibility, with Israel issues, and indeed call for more accurate and just education, and are attempted to be dismissed by members high up in the Jewish community.
Having never been offered an argument against our campaign with any real substance or persuasiveness, it is unclear where exactly we and these select few figures diverge. Surely these figures understand the importance of maps in shaping perceptions?
Surely they appreciate the importance of the Green Line as a legal and geopolitical demarcation between these two areas of land? Surely they believe in the need to educate the leaders of tomorrow with integrity?
Especially when they are making a point of asking for it. This campaign, bolstered by reason, backed by a committed team and sustained by a genuine conviction of the compulsion of the cause, shows little signs of abating and indeed continues to grow in scope and depth by the day.
If you feel compelled by the cause and wish to sign our petition, put pressure on your local educational institutions to commit to education with integrity, or wish to find out more about the Green Lines campaign, then we would urge you to do so, and to become part of this grassroots movement which is positively changing how we educate on Israel – one Green Line at a time.