Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum

Pro-Israel and the Responsibility of British Jews

Posted by Admin on April 20, 2010

Nicholas Saphir

Nicholas-Saphir The State of Israel has journeyed from survival to military and economic power; from underdog to tough negotiator; from light unto the nations to pariah subjected to asymmetric demands in regard to the conduct of war and human rights; from being the unchallenged friend of the United States to the intransigent child being faced by an ally who wants to change the rules. This complex transition has resulted in an Israeli government who demands hasbara rather than dialogue and reacts to the pressure by challenging deeply held Jewish values of equality and social justice, even within the Green Line of Israel itself.

British Jewry’s traditional support for the Israeli Government ‘right or wrong’ is being increasingly questioned. There are those who disassociate themselves from the Israel that has evolved. Some fund Israeli activists in seeking to bring about equality and social justice for all Israeli citizens. Others, amongst the religious nationalists, increasingly argue for the permanent inclusion of the occupied territories within the Promised Land and an ever more restrictive religious character for the State.

What is clear is that as the differences within the community are widening, intolerance is growing. More importantly many of our younger generation are conflating the challenge of our relationship with Israel with their own Jewish identity. It is to them and to the State of Israel, rather than to its Government, which we owe the duty to discuss the issues in determining what we mean when we say that we are pro-Israel.

Nicholas Saphir is the Chair of New Israel Fund UK.


Update 5th May:

On Tuesday 8th June, Nicholas Saphir will be speaking at public meeting at Calderwood Lodge Primary School at 8pm. The title of his lecture will be: “Supporting Israel does not require blinkers”.

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10 Responses to “Pro-Israel and the Responsibility of British Jews”

  1. Israeli said

    The Goldstone affair, delegitimisation of human rights groups in Israel and now selected taxes on groups that oppose government policy. The current situation is so depressing. Has Israeli democracy and respect for human rights ever been worse?

  2. The curious case of Olives and Cucumbers said

    There is a curious report that has been brought to my attention about a jar of pickled cucumbers, some olives and a temper tantrum thrown by Aharon Soudry at Garnethill last Saturday. Following on from his letter to the Telegraph last Friday I suggest that Mr Soudry chills out and stops embarassing Garnethill by continued intemperate outbursts.

  3. Mark Haddon said

    This is like Mark Haddon’s Book – “The Curious Incident of the dog in the night-time.” Poor Aharon. He must have woken at 3am in his Garnethill chambers and felt very peckish. Stumbling upon a fridge he discovered a jar of pickled cucumbers and a jar of lovely olives. Elated he licked his lips and was ready for a feast. Unfortunately there was a flash of lightning and a roar of thunder. The heavens opened and a voice came unto Aharon and commanded him to stop. The voice came from the sky. As Aharon hid under his blanket in trepidation the voice pointed out that to rifle a tennant’s fridge is larceny and was inappropriate. Aharon then fell asleep and remembered the olives and a cucumber the following morning in Shul.

    Mr Aharon Soudry will be appearing in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol at the Kings Theatre in the autumn.

  4. Newton Mearns Congregant said

    As a lifelong member of Newton Mearns Shul I cannot believe that our Synagogue has aligned itself to the Labour Party in the middle of a General Election. I am a supporter of the Labour Party but it is monumentally stupid for a Synagogue to side with one party over another at this time. The Labour Party might choose to hold this meeting in our Shul but why are we asking members of the community to attend? I have never posted on any blog before but I am very very angry about this.

  5. The Book of Soudry said

    And The Lord spoke unto Mr Soudry and warned him that if he was found taking food which did not belong to him a punishment would be handed down. The Lord reminded him that trying to embarrass one’s fellow Jews on the Sabbath was frowned upon and that believing you are a better Jew than others was not what the Lord would expect.
    Mr Soudry was last seen hiding under the duvet. He couldn’t remember if his God was a kind God or a vengeful God and it was worrying him. The End. Amen.

  6. The Book of Soudry said

    Mr Soudry fell asleep but in the middle of the night he awoke from a very bad nightmare. The Lord had visited him and told him in no uncertain terms that there was to be no repeat of his behaviour and that he expected all of HIS people to respect one another and to respect their differences in how they prayed and worshipped their Lord. The Lord told Mr Soudry that he should apologise this Shabbat when he stands up to make his sermon and if he does so the Lord would look favourably on him. If on the other hand he gets his wires crossed again then the Lord will have no option but to punish him severley and subject him to communal ridicule.
    So Mr Soudry has been warned. Amen.

  7. The Book of Soudry said

    Chapter 3

    And The Lord said unto Mr Soudry – Have you forgotten that my people were once strangers in a strange land and have you forgooten what I commanded you. You were commanded to be hospitable to the stranger
    when he comes amongst you.

    If you have forgotten my commandments the Lord told Mr Soudry then I will educate you properly. If on the other hand you are being disobedient then the Lord said he would sort Mr Soudry out in the very near future.

    The Lord has spoken. Mr Soudry had better pack his overnight bag more carefully this week when he goes to Garnethill. Hopefully, he will remember his cucumbers and pickles. We wouldn’t want history to repeat itself would we Mr Soudry, said the Lord. Be Warned.

  8. The Book of Soudry said

    And the Lord was concerned. He decided that it was time to tell it straight. He gathered together Rabbi Mordechai Bamberger, Rabbi Moshe Rubin and Mr Aharon Soudry and said unto them. It is well known that the Torah has been written and rewritten and is now in its 7654 reprint. Rabbis and scholars have written and amended my words and I am perfectly comfortable with that. It would seem in Glasgow that some of the Rabbis and Mr Soudry are telling My people that any Judaism that questions whether every word was written by Me is somehow not Kosher. The Lord told them that this was too silly for words. How could He have written every word of it Himself. The Rabbis and Mr Soudry were told to stop speaking out against His people and to relax and chill out about how other Jews worship Him.
    The Rabbis and Mr Soudry blushed because the Lord had told them to behave better and they felt humiliated. The Lord looked at Glasgow from afar and smiled that there were some committed members of His people who were trying to encourage other Jews to find Judaism and He was pleased. Amen.

  9. Concerned Citizen said

    The Front Page article in this week’s Jewish Telegraph reflects a malaise within the Glasgow Jewish community.

    The Scottish Friends of Israel were the unacceptable face of the community and were exposed for holding horrific and ugly views.

    The fact that East Renfrewshire Labour MSP, Ken Mackintosh, has cosied up to SFI at best indicates ignorance on his part. Mr Mackintosh may wish to consider that the views of SFI mirror far-right parties in Israel and notwithstanding the Labour Party’s desire to secure as many votes as possible in the election, this kind of opportunism will alienate as many if not more Jewish voters than it will impress.

    Mr Mackintosh believes ” that much of the debate and coverage of Israel to be one-sided, unremittingly negative and hostile “. Maybe he would like to properly explain why he “worries about the impact of such coverage on the Jewish community here in Scotland which I know has to cope with direct and indirect attacks as a result.”

    Unsubtantiated comments like that which are inaccurate are unhelpful and do not reflect well on politicians.
    Mr Mackintosh must think that anyone who waves an Israeli flag must be good for Labour in East Renfrewshire. When that flag is waved by groups like SFI it is time that Mr Mackintosh did his homework in a lot more detail. The sad truth is that our community like other communities have people who have repugnant views and disregard the rights of others and attempt to legitimise their position through staunch nationalism – in this case support of Israel.

    Please think about it Ken. You can do better than this.

  10. jcwmoderator said

    Having read the above comments, I must ask: you call this forum “educational”?If so, how can you host N. Saphir?

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