By Mick Davis. Chairman, Jewish Leadership Council
We are all, today, confronted by an anti- Israel bias in parts of UK society fuelled by those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel. The result of their activities is not only an unfair attack on Israel and its people but is an assault on all of us too.
For a few years now, the discourse around Israel in the UK has no longer been a discussion of Israeli policy. The discussion is now more frequently and more dangerously about the legitimacy of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
One of the most urgent challenges we need to address as a community is our need for a forum to discuss what support for Israel actually means to its supporters and how we can translate that support into effective and legitimate action.
We Believe in Israel is the space for the pro-Israel community to come together, regardless of their political affiliations and their views on the policies of the current Israeli government.
We Believe in Israel is the space where information can be disseminated and which people can gain resource from.
The upcoming We Believe conference on Sunday 22 March – media sponsored by this newspaper – is precisely the kind ofenabling initiative our community needs.
The Jewish community in the UK has become partially energised and partially focused. But we need a total commitment and a comprehensive focus.
That’s why the We Believe conference is going to be decisive in establishing a capability and a capacity to work for the legitimacy of Israel and be a very effective counterweight to movements that delegitimise Israel.
As a result of persistent delegitimisation efforts, we have to now focus on what we can do, not on what we cannot do.
While some of us may have strong views on Israeli Government policy and should feel free to express those in an environment which respects the input of all Zionists, this conference is about how we in the Diaspora can respond to an existential threat to Israel which is being played out in our own backyard.
Here is where we have the capacity to influence people’s understanding of the tremendous existential complexities that any government in Israel faces, and understanding of the choices they have to make and we should make no compromise in this mission.
At the end of the day, we want British society to connect with Israel in a positive way.
We need the British public, as a whole, to recognise the fact that Israel has a right to exist; that the Jewish people have a right to a self-determination; and that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people; that there are existential threats to Israel which are unique amongst the community of nations; that they require very complex decisions, and that sometimes those decisions require a degree of compromise. We want the British public to endorse that Israel is a country that contributes value and good to the community of nations and to reject its isolation and the objectives and practices of the BDS movement.
The We Believe in Israel conference is a key opportunity for the pro-Israel community to become re-engaged, not with the belief in the legitimacy of Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people – that is a given – but in what needs to be done to engage British society as a whole. What we want to achieve through the We Believe conference is for people to understand the power of influence that their activism makes.
As a community, we need to understand the proposition. We need to understand the messaging. We need to have the tools to deliver that messaging, and we need to be active and to be out there.
If you can come away from this conference feeling that you’re fully equipped, feeling that you’re fully enthusiastic and feeling that you’re fully prepared for it, then it will have been a success. But the key ingredient to ensuring this success is a unity within our community.
A unity which eschews debilitating divides and attacks on each other’s Zionist credentials. A unity which allows all to find common cause and participate in the most important event for Zionists in the UK Jewish calendar for 2015.
• Find out more at http://www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk/