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A damp squib? Doubts about the new UK ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ movement

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June 15, 2011 by Antony Lerman

Yachad, a new ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ movement, inspired by the American J Street liberal, political lobby group, was launched in the UK in April. Much heralded and anticipated, since its website went live, little has been heard from it. Is Yachad a damp squib?

To answer this, it’s important to understand the context out of which Yachad emerged.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that over the last 15 years Jewish opinion in the UK has become increasingly critical of policies pursued by Israeli governments. So what? Well, at 300-330,000, however small is the UK Jewish population, its backing for Israel, as one component of Diaspora Jewry’s worldwide support, is seen as very important by the Israeli leadership. On the one hand, should Jews in the UK en masse do the unthinkable and formally dissociate themselves from Israel’s policies, I can imagine that a Netanyahu government would, in public, shrug it off and find excuses to explain it. On the other hand, I’m sure that, in private, they would be appalled and very worried since Israel exploits Diaspora Jewish support to provide legitimacy for its actions and as a crucial cushion bolstering its deteriorating international position. Practically every Israeli government has treated Diaspora Jewry as an extension of its domestic constituency, coopting it, speaking on its behalf, as Netanyahu did recently, especially at times of great political difficulty, as a way of exporting its internal crisis.

Read the rest of this post here.

Follow me on Twitter: @tonylerman

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One thought on “A damp squib? Doubts about the new UK ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ movement

  1. Jacqueline Rose says:

    Even if Yachad does not welcome all, I think it should be welcomed. And even while I share Antony Lerman’s concern about making `love of Israel’ a pre-condition – Hannah Arendt was I believe right to warn of the dangers of bringing love to the table of politics – I think that the more initiatives in the public domain that open up a space to pressure Israel in the direction of a just settlement the better, even if the interpretation of how best to go about this and/or what is needed differs.
    And as a co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices, I would also want to add that these initiatives need time to find their level and effectiveness. I know and respect people who support Yachad. We should not be dismissing it.

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