Chair's Message: July 2015

The nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran has occupied the headlines in the last few weeks. While we hope that the deal will limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, we urge extreme vigilance on those who are policing the agreement. This is essential so that Iran, which remains a sponsor of terror worldwide, has no opportunity to develop weapons of mass destruction. We call on our Government to reaffirm that it will take all steps necessary to ensure that any violation by Iran will be met with severe consequences. We also call on the Government to continue to stand against Iran’s dangerous destabilising policies in the Middle East, especially since this issue was not accounted for in the deal. Head of Policy & Research Claudia Mendoza writes more about this later in the newsletter. While many remain justifiably concerned about the final agreement I think that efforts in Israel and elsewhere would be better placed if they concentrate on what potential options this agreement opens up rather than using up precious political capital to frustrate it – that is something for the political process in that Country to deal with. Now more than ever alliances between Israel and other middle-east powers, hitherto unthinkable, are possible to confront what is now the common concerns of a resurgent Iran on the one hand and an out of control Isil on the other. These alliances may also pave the way for progress on the pressing issue of a lasting agreement with the Palestinian People.

You will also find an article from Jon Boyd describing the Social Care mapping report which he presented to the July meeting of the JLC Council. This piece of work will inform the Community’s strategic planning, with the aim of ensuring that we are correctly resourced to meet the social care and welfare needs of the community over the next 15-20 years. There is much to be done and the JLC will facilitate a major seminar for our social care providers so that we can set the parameters for this exercise. This is a priority area for the JLC and its members and I look forward to following the work closely.

It is very pleasing to note that the 2015 Israel summer tours for 16 year olds are now underway. These boys and girls will go on a trip of a lifetime, taking in everything wonderful Israel has to offer, in some cases for the first time. This is the time when the participants’ connection with Israel becomes real and they can witness our beautiful Land first hand: As Calev said “… the land is exceedingly good..” (Bamidbar/Numbers 14:7). It is a tremendous effort from UJIA and the youth movements to organise these trips every summer with such strong numbers. Even during the difficult conflict of last summer, huge numbers went on these tours with almost no one withdrawing, highlighting the closeness our community has with Israel. We hope that this year calm will prevail but if a situation arose the community organisations are better prepared to cope with a crisis than was the case last year.

I am delighted that the Council unanimously agreed to welcome Langdon and Jewish Women’s Aid to the membership of the JLC.  We have added four new members in 2014 and now two in 2015. This brings the total number of members of the JLC to 31. We are delivering on our commitment to be more representative of the community’s institutions.

I would also like to thank and bid a sad farewell to the departing Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and his wife, Zehava. Daniel has been an exemplary and outstanding Ambassador. In his four years in post, he has been an articulate, inspiring, passionate and balanced advocate for the State of Israel. His collegiate, friendly and outgoing manner, together with his ready wit, deep learning , knowledge and empathy with the UK Jewish Community, has made him one of the best friends this community could have had. His speeches and media comments were always measured, sensible and motivational. The UK community will miss his deep care, his accessibility, and his ready smile at the numerous community events which he made it his business to attend. We wish him every success and he and his family only joy and happiness in the next stage of their lives.