Blog Series: Six Day War: 50 Years On

Gillian Merron, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

The weeks leading up to the Six Day War in 1967 were not only anxious and traumatic for those living in Israel, but as conflict became increasingly inevitable, they were also tense times for the UK Jewish community.

Those old enough to remember the developing crisis in the Middle East will recall a genuine fear of Israeli defeat as Egyptian forces massed in the Sinai, ousting UN peacekeepers and closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

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Blog Series: Six Day War: 50 Years On

Ethan Schwartz, Digital Campaigner & Press Officer, Yachad 

The Six Day War has a powerful place in the collective memory of the Jewish community; a miraculous victory that ensured Israel’s survival, aided by hundreds of young Jews from the UK and around the world who answered Israel’s call for help. But in commemorating the war, 50 years on, we should not lose sight of what has happened since. From the first days after victory, the debate over what to do about the land and people now under Israeli control, and, by extension, what sort of society Israel should be, raged – and the key questions in many ways remain unanswered. Yet in the five decades since, a purportedly temporary occupation of the West Bank has become a permanent system which infringes on the basic rights of millions of Palestinians every day, and which threatens Israel’s future. 

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Blog Series: Six Day War: 50 Years On

Luke Akehurst, Director, We Believe in Israel

It was the Six Day War that really sparked my interest in Israel and led me indirectly to my job today, working full-time as Director of We Believe in Israel.

I was born in 1972 so it was already history, but very recent history, by the time I became aware of it.

My family are not Jewish, not religious at all, but were very political and instinctively supportive of Israel and the Jewish Community, dating back to my grandad having Jewish friends in his teaching career and his Army days in World War Two. But other than to explain the history of the Holocaust to me there had been no reason to discuss Israel.

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Blog Series: Six Day War: 50 Years On

Simon Johnson, CEO, Jewish Leadership Council

This coming week will see the marking of the 50th Anniversary of the Six Day War.  In wider society, this landmark will be rather forgotten in all the coverage of the General Election. That also means that much of the anticipated media and hostile Parliamentary activity for which we were preparing, will not happen. Yet, this remains an important moment and a chance for the Jewish community to reflect on the impact of the Six Day War on our Jewish identity and our attitude to Israel.

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Dr Moshe Kantor: France's Sigh of Relief

We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was confirmed that Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate, had defeated Marine Le Pen of the far-right and notoriously anti-Semitic National Front, in the second round run-off of the French Presidential elections on Sunday.

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The Zionist Federation Annual Dinner


In March 2017 JLC member organisation the Zionist Federation hosted their annual dinner where they were joined by Moshe Ya’alon, the former Israeli defence minister.

Introduced by ambassador Mark Regev as an “Israeli hero”, he said for too many it’s “not about occupation since ’67 it’s about occupation since ’48. It’s about our very existence”. He attacked the “misconceptions” about the region that persist in International and public discourse.

While he was prepared to give up land for peace and firmly rejected the idea of annexing Area C, he suggested it was futile while Israel doesn’t even feature in Palestinian textbooks and payments are made to terrorists. He said: “Without dealing with education there’s no chance of a better future for them.”

Reflecting the view of the prime minister the one-time IDF chief of staff insisted the refusal of “too many parties in our tough neighbourhood” to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jews was the core of the conflict. “We’re still fighting our independence war until today,” he said. “This is ignored in many circles.”

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JLC Scotland Director Peter Speirs looks at the referendum controversy

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced on Monday 13 March her intention to hold another referendum on Scottish independence. The casus belli for this is the disparity between the proportion of people in Scotland who voted to stay in the EU (62%) and the UK-wide decision to leave. As the holding of a referendum is widely perceived as a matter reserved to Westminster, the Prime Minister refused to hold such a referendum until after the Brexit negotiations. The Scottish Parliament has now voted to empower the First Minister to hold negotiations with the UK Government about temporarily devolving the power to hold such a referendum immediately. The opinion polling has generally shown no statistically significant change to the levels of support and opposition to independence since 2014. Polls also show that around half of the population does not want to hold a referendum in the near future, whilst around a third do. In essence, virtually none of those who voted No in 2014 want another referendum, and around two thirds of those who voted Yes do. It may be the case, however, that those who do not seek another referendum want the Scottish Parliament to vote to not hold one, rather than for the Prime Minister to unilaterally decide that one cannot take place.

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The CST Holds Its 2017 Annual Dinner


The CST annual dinner was held in March and guests were joined by The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, who was the guest of honour for the evening. The dinner is CST’s main fundraising event of the year. It was sponsored by Deloitte and attended by around 1,000 guests, including donors, politicians, Police officers, Jewish community partners and other supporters of CST’s work protecting our Jewish community.

The dinner was attended by politicians from several different parties, including Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson MP; Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron MP; SNP leader in Westminster Angus Robertson MP; Sir Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post Holocaust Issues to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; and John Mann MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

Police officers who attended to show their support for CST and for the Jewish community included newly-appointed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick; National Police Chiefs Council chair Chief Constable Sara Thornton; Essex Police Chief Constable Steven Kavanagh; Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey; Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling; and Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police who is also NPCC lead for the Jewish Community.

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Reshet Update - March 2017


Opportunities to develop

Professionals from synagogues, Jewish schools, youth charities and organisations from across the community have come together every month since October 2016 to increase their skills as well as expand their networks.    The Reshet Professional Development Programme aimed to increase expertise in coaching and mentoring as well as to increase engagement of colleagues who are all working in informal Jewish education in numerous communal settings.

‘I have learned something new at every session and have met people who care about working with young people as much as I do!’

The programme is enabling professionals to lead through coaching and mentoring techniques, benefiting organisations and the young people they serve.

Opportunities to learn

More than 115 educators from Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and London attended the Reshet Healthy Relationships Conference in February 2017. Supporting our community’s young people to think critically about the healthy relationships they create with themselves, others and wider society is the task that sits heavily on the shoulders of many Jewish youth professionals, teachers and Rabbis. In 2016, Reshet developed a network forum, bringing together communal expertise from Jami, Streetwise, Keshet UK, Hasmonean (Girls) and Jewish Women’s Aid, aiming to create an opportunity to for educators to gain ‘hands on’ knowledge in how to best support our youth. Rabbi Daniel Epstein, lay-leader and senior accredited counsellor Ruth Green, Rebbetzin and therapist Naomi Lehrer and keynote speaker, Natasha Devon MBE, highlighted the need to be young person focused and the essential role Jewish youth professionals and volunteers play in the lives of Jewish young people.


Lead Update - March 2017


On Tuesday 21st March, Lead held the first of their three Leading In sessions for 2017. We were joined by Group Captain Mark Hunt OBE who led a TED talk on his Personal Leadership journey. It was truly an inspiring story where participants heard how he rose through the RAF ranks and his advice on leadership;

-          Believe in yourself and others

-          Understand when to be an authoritative leader and when to take a step back and be a non-authoritative leader.

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