Israel’s Ambassador has spoken of the need for the country’s supporters to increase dialogue with the Labour Party in the wake of its leaders’ repeated criticism of the military operation in Gaza.
Ed Miliband expressed strong opposition to the IDF’s ground incursion, launched after air strikes failed to halt the barrage of hundreds of rockets fired towards Israel’s citizens.
While he defended the country’s right to defend itself, he later claimed David Cameron’s “silence” on the killing of Palestinian civilians was “inexplicable” to many.
Daniel Taub said: “We have continuing relationships with all the leaders. In this case, the cause of concern is the impression that statements are being made in support of Israel’s right to self-defence but in practise it’s not being allowed to defend itself in a way which would prevent terror attacks. To my mind that means we need to increase the level of dialogue and explain the dilemmas we face.”
Speaking to the Jewish News during last week’s visit to Bradford, ahead of the announcement of a long-term ceasefire, the envoy reflected on how the Embassy had worked round-the-clock both in public and behind the scenes to put the state’s case forward during the seven-week conflict.
He said there were two “trends at work” in British society; the first that had seen bilateral trade double and cooperation advanced in multiple arenas while the second saw “a window of opportunity to advance political agendas, often agenda that have nothing to do with the Middle East”.
He said: “Our challenge is to make sure we do everything we can to empower that first trend and ensure the second is marginalised is defeated.”
As to whether the current climate against Israel is a lasting one or will calm down, he added: “To some degree the answer lies in our hands.
“The more we are forthright and affective in stating our case with integrity, the more we will make sure we are strengthening Israel’s allies.
“Israel has a huge advantage – anyone who looks at the Middle East map and tries to find out where their own values are reflected in practise will find Israel high on that list, if not top. We need to carry on building bridges on that basis.”
Turning to the Tricycle Theatre controversy, he said its decision to back down over its boycott of the Jewish Film Festival “was significant because it shows that when we rally together to make our case we can regain space that might be lost to intimidation”.
He also took the opportunity to hail the numbers of young people that travelled to Israel with youth movements this summer, with a tiny drop-out rate despite the crisis.