OPINION: Disagree with us by all means, but keep the debate respectful

OPINION: Disagree with us by all means, but keep the debate respectful

Hannah Weisfeld
Hannah Weisfeld

By Hannah Weisfeld

Director, Yachad

Hannah Weisfeld
Hannah Weisfeld

Yachad was established in May 2011 to give a voice to British Jewish supporters of Israel enabling them to speak up in support of a two-state solution as a basis for providing peace and security for Israel and the Palestinian people.

Since then, tens of thousands of community members have attended our events, taken part in our campaigns and trips, and in just over three years, we have amassed upwards of 4,000 supporters and hundreds and hundreds of donors.

We work regularly with the majority of youth movements, Jewish students, and in synagogues spanning Liberal to Federation communities.

The cross-section of representation among our staff and current and former board members is a good example of the people we represent: former IDF reservists, major communal philanthropists, former staff of BICOM, graduates of Zionist youth movements, members of United, Masorti and Reform communities.

Like (to name a few) the leader of the political opposition in Israel; Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Justice; Yuval Diskin, Ami Ayalon Yaakov Peri – all former directors of Israel’s Shin Bet – and all 1,000-plus members of  the Council for Peace and Security (made up of former army, security and diplomatic corps who have held positions of seniority), we too are supportive of the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps.

Click here for the opposing view

Our partners in Israel span a range of organisations. For example, last year, Yachad brought to the UK the former head of the Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon.

On a trip to the region with a group of Jewish lawyers this year, we met with representatives of the Yesha Council, the official body of the settler movement, former legal advisors to the Israeli government, as well as Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din.

We are proud of our association with organisations committed to protecting human rights. We think it is a testament to Israel’s democracy that the country has a robust civil society with which we can

I am proud that, as the director of Yachad, I have been invited for the past two years to speak on a panel at the Trade Union Friends of Israel event at the TUC conference, because we have a strong track record of being able to present Israel’s case to more hostile environments.

I am honoured when the BBC calls Yachad and asks us to appear on the television and the radio to explain why the decision of the Tricycle to cut its ties to the UK Jewish Film Festival is so problematic.

Yachad may disagree with what other Zionists believe to be in Israel’s best long term interests.

However, we do not question whether these individuals have Israel’s best interests at heart. We engage in respectful debate and dialogue.

We invite those who disagree with Yachad to behave in the same manner.

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