Dozens of Jewish youth leaders preparing to lead Israel tours this summer have accused the Jewish community of “bullying” a peer whose tour participation was shelved after she said kaddish for the Gaza dead.
By Friday lunchtime an angry open letter had been signed by almost 90 past and present bogrim (senior leaders) and madrichim (leaders) from a range of Zionist youth movements, who said their concern for Palestinians was part of their values.
The letter was orchestrated by RSY Bogrim after Oxford student Nina Morris-Evans was told she would not be leading Israel tour for young Reform Jews this summer, despite Reform’s leadership having initially stood by her.
In an angry response, 35 of her peers from RSY-Netzer, Reform’s youth movement, said they would still continue to “reject the entrenchment of Israel’s occupation” and express concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
They were joined by youth leaders from LJY-Netzer, Noam Masorti Youth and Habonim Dror, accusing the Jewish community of “bullying,” saying: “Our chaverim and our movements will not bow to intimidation.”
You can view the open letter here.
Morris-Evans wrote an opinion article for Jewish News in the immediate aftermath of the kaddish on Parliament Square, after Israeli snipers killed over 60 Palestinian protesters in one day and wounded hundreds more. Read Nina’s piece here.
The kaddish had been planned days earlier but hours before the event, news broke that 50 of the dead were Hamas operatives. Morris-Evans subsequently received reams of abuse after arguing that it shouldn’t matter because it was still “murder”.
Reform Judaism had initially said it would “mentor” Morris-Evans but in a letter to Reform clergy and community chairs this week, leaders said they had withdrawn a youth leader from tour “in the best interests and welfare of participants,” without naming her.
Youth leaders hit back, saying: “We are fully committed to the continuation of a broad and critical education for our chanichim on camps, Israel tours, and other movement events, while maintaining our core Zionist values.”
They said that “ending the occupation and creating a just, peaceful society is more than a position, it is a principle of our Zionism,” adding: “We continue to believe that it is only through understanding the plurality of narratives and experiences that exist across Israel-Palestine that we can move closer to constructive dialogue and true peace.”