Idea of Jewish-Diaspora “Big Conversation” to be Aired at Full Knesset Session
Mick Davis, Chairman of the Board of the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) yesterday called for a major overhaul of Israel’s engagement with Diaspora Jewry, in the form of an ongoing “Big Conversation” between Diaspora Jewish leaders and the Government of Israel.
The comments were made in evidence provided by Mr Davis at a session of the Knesset Subcommittee on Diaspora Affairs focusing on the UK. Addressing members of Knesset, representatives of the major Government departments and key analysts and NGOs Davis characterised UK Jewry as a community that “continues to thrive, enjoying a wide and diverse infrastructure of communal provision, despite demographic and economic risks”
Davis noted that discourse around the UK in Israel often distorts the reality and that this risks harming the bilateral relationship between the two countries. He described the UK Jewish community as one that is both worried about, and deeply protective of Israel.
In his presentation Davis highlighted the many changes and improvements to the UK Jewish community’s Israel advocacy infrastructure that have been implemented since the war against Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006. He provided anassessment of the campaign against Israel’s legitimacy in the UK, explaining that the current scenario was “not a burning platform” but if not tackled effectively risks moving in that direction. He set out the intention of UK communal leaders to turn London into “a hub of fighting delegitimisation”. He explained that “the JLC and its partners see the assault upon Israel’s legitimacy as an attack on Jewish identity, and fight it as such.”
Calling for a “big, open and direct” conversation in which Diaspora voices are heard in Israel he suggested that “every hib of delegitimisation should also be a hub of this conversation” suggesting that “this will galvanise Diaspora communities against the wedge that the delegitimisers try to open”. He set out a series of mutual responsibilities for Israel and Diaspora Jewry in this regard calling on the Diaspora to ensure that Israel “permeates institutional Jewish life” and asking Israel to “promote the integrity of a people rooted in a set of Jewish values”. He also suggested that some responsibilities were mutual, such as “the promotion of Hebrew as a language that binds us”. Davis stressed that any suchconversation must recongise the primacy of the Israeli position on security and existential matters.
Responding to a query from a UK Diplomat about the role that the British Government could play, Davis suggested that “unequivocal recognition of the notion of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” was required. He added that acknowledgement of the need to end to the idea of a Palestinian Right of Return “within the State of Israel”, coupled a clear recognition that the solution to the Palestinian refugees’ issues must be found with the future State of Palestine by the UK Government would help to undermine attempts to attack the fundamental legitimacy of the Jewish State.
Responding to the presentation Committee Chair Einat Wilf said that she would be taking the suggestions to the full plenum of the Knesset. She also proposed the idea of a senior policy advisor being appointed within the Prime Minister’s office who would be able to advise specifically upon the impact of key Israeli policy decisions within Diaspora communities.
To view the presentation in Hebrew click here.