A Masorti Judaism panel with Israel’s ambassador in the UK went ahead as planned this week despite opposition from many members, including the entire youth movement.
Noam Masorti Youth said it would not participate in the online conversation with Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and organised an alternative seminar because of the views previously expressed by ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.
In a statement before Wednesday’s online event Noam said: “We believe in the importance of engaging with Israel as it is, with all the joys and challenges which come with that.
“Despite this, we feel that Hotovely’s comments are beyond the pale.”
Hotovely, who was appointed to succeed Mark Regev as ambassador last summer, is a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
A former settlements minister, she favours Israel’s annexation of territory in the West Bank and declined to support a two-state solution in a BBC interview earlier this week.
She has previously also sought to deny Palestinian people have a connection to the Holy Lands and courted far-right Jewish organisations, including the anti-Arab group Lehava.
Masorti Judaism’s chief executive Matt Plen defended the decision to go ahead with the panel event even though Hotovely’s views “clash with some of our deeply held values – articulated most clearly by some of our young people through Noam”.
He went on: “I believe engaging with her was the right decision. I’m proud that Noam organised an alternative educational event on issues of racism and democracy in Israel society.
“The fact that Masorti Judaism can hold on to core values while encompassing diversity and respectfully challenging those we disagree with is surely one of our movement’s greatest strengths.”
Hotovely said during the event that she wanted to engage further with young Jewish people and promised to invite members of the Noam movement to embassy to talk to her about Israel.
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”