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.
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