Long-frustrated at having been told their support for Israel was not good enough, people wanted a seat at the table.
It is no surprise Yachad grew so quickly. It captured the hearts and minds of so many thousands of our community, many from a younger generation, who, graduating through Zionist youth movements and active on university campuses, wanted a new framework by which they could support Israel, rather than simply defending the status quo.
When Yachad applied to affiliate to the Zionist Federation we did so in good faith, hoping to be able to represent this perspective within an organisation that claimed to be an umbrella movement of Zionism in the UK today.
After nearly ten months of answering questions, inviting council members to our events and doing everything that was required of us, we were told our application had been rejected ‘on no grounds’.
It was simply put to a vote and the vote went against us. We know from those present at previous discussions within the Zionist Federation, members of
the constitution committee ‘found no strong grounds to reject the application’, but nonetheless did so.
We thought this community had long ago done away with the notion that being ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestine’ – or, more accurately, ‘pro-the creation of a Palestinian state’ – were mutually exclusive. Apparently not. We’ve been told that our desire to show Anglo-Jewry Palestinian areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem means we are ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and not ‘pro-Israel’ enough.
The fact that we vocalise concerns in relation to settlement expansion is apparently indicative of our lack of support for Israel, despite the fact that 70 percent of this community does not support settlement expansion.
But supporters of Yachad stand with large numbers of current and former political, military and cultural leaders inside Israel whose opinions are no different to ours. Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel, recently said of Yachad: “A two-state solution is the only possible road to peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The work of Yachad, which takes a strong and firm approach in support of this outcome is to be commended as the work of a truly Zionist organisation.” Is he too not welcome at the table?
When Yuval Diskin, most recent former head of the Shin Bet, was quoted as
saying tensions cannot be diffused so that a resolution can be found while settlement expansion is ongoing, did he forgo his right to call himself a Zionist? The chairman of Meretz, Zahava Gal-On, supported Palestine’s upgrade at the United Nations. Yet Meretz in the UK remains a member of the Zionist Federation. Had Meretz applied to join today, would its application, too, have been rejected?
Zionism has never been a monolithic ideology. One only has to look at the
disagreements between Ben Gurion and Ze’ev Jabotinsky as proof of this.
However it appears the Zionist Federation today perceives its role as policing the term, deciding what is Zionist behaviour and what is not, and in doing
so, chooses to exclude large numbers of this community.
A supporter of Israel, who desires to see a two-state solution and chooses to visit East Jerusalem with Yachad, in order to better understand who lives
there and the options for how the city could be shared in a final status agreement, can, it seems, no longer claim to be a Zionist.
The Zionist Federation of course has a right to make any decision it likes, but surely it has lost the right to define itself as the ‘umbrella of Zionism in
It is clear from the depth of feeling inside the community that has been shown this past week, that many people are looking to understand why supporting Yachad and being represented at the Zionist Federation are mutually exclusive.
This is now a conversation about what, and who, defines Zionism in 2013, and is too important to remain behind closed doors.Learn more »