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Friday 11 April 2008

Weekly Update 11th April 2008

Dear Friends,

I was lucky enough to spend a fascinating weekend last weekend at the
Liberal Judaism Biennial Conference. Though the theme was Creation &
Creativity there was much Israel content for participants to get their
teeth and brains into with at least one Israel related choice every
session. My Friday night spent away from the main conference with the
young adults was made extra special by the presence of a group of
musical students from the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa (and their
guitar maestro teacher). They were a pleasure to meet and wowed the
conference on the Saturday night with their concert of Israeli music at
the Israel themed dinner. Another highlight was Professor Rafi Walden of
Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights. Rafi is a speaker
every Zionist organisation in this country should bring over here - his
message of cooperation, peace and coexistence was heart warming and
motivating despite the organisation dealing with great hardships faced
by Israeli minority groups and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Before the articles a reminder to get your tickets for the Israel 60
celebration at Wembley Arena featuring Jackie Mason and Sarit Hadad.
Pro-Zion are proud to be sponsoring the event. For further information
see the poster at

This weeks we have three articles on completely different topics
1. A Brilliant opinion piece on conversion in Israel by Donniel Hartman
of the Shalom Hartman Institute.
2. An interesting perspective by a German Journalist on an alternative
Shabbat in Tel Aviv
3. An article from the New York times on the Aims of Hamas

Shabbat Shalom
Daniel, Charlie and all at Pro-Zion

The challenge and crisis of conversion in Israel

The challenge and crisis of conversion in Israel (31/03/2008)

A major in the Israeli Army came to me recently and said, "Rabbi
Hartman, I need your help. Three years ago I adopted my first child. I
wanted the child to be Jewish; and I converted my child, and in order to
do so, I had to lie (about keeping an Orthodox lifestyle). In two months
I am getting my second child, and I don't want to lie anymore."

Why is it that within the borders of the State of Israel, this
individual cannot convert his child to be a Jew like he is? Why is it
that the State of Israel determines not merely the citizenship, but in
essence who is an authentic Jew?

Under Israel's law of return, which grants automatic citizenship to
anyone who Hitler would have killed as a Jew (an individual born from a
Jewish mother or father, one who converted or married a Jew, or with one
Jewish grandparent), approximately 325,000 individuals moved to Israel
from the former Soviet Union. While citizens of the State, they are not
Jewish in accordance with the standards set by the Israeli Rabbinate,
which requires that a person be born from a Jewish mother or be
converted to Judaism according to Orthodox halakha.

In much of the Jewish world, Jews of different denominations may
disagree – for example, in the U.S., patrilineal descent is accepted by
the Reform movement, while Conservatives and Orthodox hold to
matrilineal – but each denomination there has its own rabbinate, which
allows the ideological community to function independently. In Israel,
however, there is only one rabbinate for issues of marriage, conversion,
kashrut and burial, and this rabbinate is controlled by Orthodoxy, and a
non-modern one at that.

Over the last 15-20 years, only a few thousand Russians have chosen to
convert, and today, only 1,000-1,500 convert a year. However, with a
natural birthrate of 3,000, the problem is only getting more acute. The
reasons why the vast majority of non-Jewish Israelis from the former
Soviet Union are not converting are numerous. One of the most central is
the fact that conversions through the existing channels are limited to
individuals who want to be Orthodox, a denomination that most immigrants
from the former Soviet Union, and indeed most Jews around the world,
find unacceptable.

New conversion initiative not enough

The current conversion predicament has bothered numerous political and
religious officials and private organizations. The office of the Prime
Minister, now the central location for the issue of conversions, has
recently announced a new initiative to expand the number of judges on
conversion courts and to alleviate the difficulties inherent in the
conversion process. But these steps do not address the fundamental
issue. The question is not the number of judges but their affiliation
and orientation.

To date the most promising and active solution has been the Israeli
Army's Nativ program, where individuals in the context of their army
service are able to learn Judaism from different streams. But in the
end, it, too, faces the same bottleneck, because conversions are still
exclusively conducted by the Orthodox military rabbinate, a fact that
causes the vast majority of soldiers to drop out without converting.

Israel is the national home of all Jews – it is not the synagogue of
this or that particular denomination – and cannot be governed by the
rules of any single denomination. As the home of all Jews, Israel must
be a space in which the diverse Judaisms of the Jewish people all have
equal status – legal, economic and religious. As an Orthodox Rabbi, the
question is not what I believe, but whether I believe that I or any
single denomination can control the State of Israel.

The State of Israel cannot give preference to one ideological
perspective over the other and retain its status as homeland of all
Jews. There are many types of Jews – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform,
Reconstructionist, Renewal, and Secular. All types live within Israel,
as they do in the Jewish world at large. All are building meaningful and
vibrant Judaisms. It is not the place of the State of Israel to
determine which denomination lays claim to the authentic title of
Jewishness. As the state of all Jews, the State of Israel must be
neutral on this question.

It is a travesty that one cannot convert into being a Reform,
Conservative, traditional or secular Jew within the confines of the
State of Israel. As long as conversions are limited to the Rabbinate, it
will still be under the control of one denomination, and as long as the
access points to Judaism are limited to that denomination, most people
will stay outside.

The laws of Israel must represent more fully the meaning of a national
homeland for all Jews. Only when that happens will we be able to turn to
our fellow citizens of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere who serve
in the Army with us, study in our schools, pay taxes and contribute to
our society and offer them a pathway into the Jewish people commensurate
with the type of Jews they want to be.

I don't expect the Rabbinate to accept conversions not in accordance
with its understanding of Orthodox law. I do expect the State of Israel
not to give to one single rabbinate the sole authority of determining
the Jewish identity for the whole state. If we choose to have a
government-sponsored Rabbinate, we must have multiple rabbinates.

If we want to solve the problem of the integration of non-Jews from the
former Soviet Union into Israeli society, as well as the injustice
facing non-Orthodox Jews in Israel on daily basis, Israel must adopt the
model of world Jewry, where Jews of different beliefs have multiple
access points into their tradition. Religious tolerance must not be
limited to Diaspora Jewish life, but must be the foundation of our
national homeland.

Shabbat adventures: A sexy Tel Aviv Friday

Shabbat adventures: A sexy Tel Aviv Friday
By Laura Cornelius
"Home to perhaps the most impressive collection of sexy, young Jewish
people on the planet." This what the city guide is promising can be
found on Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv, on Shabbat. So there was no
question where I would be going on my first Friday in Israel.

Luckily, I found some young Israelis to take me along. Sheinkin is an
amazing street, similar to Notting Hill in London, just with a
difference of about 25 degrees celsius and the sea nearby.

At noon, the streets, shops and cafes are totally crowded. A van is
driving by, playing traditional Jewish music through loudspeakers. Young
religious men get out and start to put up a table with brochures. I
found them very similar to Germany's "Jesus Freaks" - young Christians,
religious, but who still like to be part of the modern lifestyle.

By 4 P.M. we are in need of a stop at a street cafe. The talk at the
table is all about 22-year-old Liron. She's upset because she got into
an argument with her roommate. It takes quite some time before I
understand why someone can be so upset about an argument with a roommate
- the reason is that it's not just a roommate, but a girlfriend.
They explain it to me very cautiously, because - coming from Germany - I
might not know about lesbians. But since I come from a city with one of
the largest gay pride parades in Europe, that really is not the case and
it is probably my sympathy for her plight that leads Liron to offer me
an invitation to her family home for Friday night dinner.

On our way there, the vibe of the city has totally changed. The streets
are almost empty, the shops are closed. Combined with a nice breeze from
the sea, the pulsating city of Tel Aviv all of a sudden has become a
calm and peaceful place. To me it feels like someone flipped a switch,
and within one hour a Friday afternoon changed into a Sunday morning -
the holy day in Christian countries.

This feeling is also enjoyed by non-religious people like Liron and her
friends. But they don't think of doing just nothing until Saturday
evening. Lights out, staying home with the family? No way! On a Friday
night, the party scene is at its hottest, they explain to me.

At Liron's home the TV is on and the food being warmed up in the
microwave. Her 15-year-old sister has already eaten, so she's showing us
the different shirts she bought today. I suggest a green one, but she's
going with the white. With this shirt she wants to impress other
youngsters of the neighborhood, with whom she is planning to hang out on
a street corner.

Meanwhile Liron, two friends of her and I dive into the club scene. The
parties of Tel Aviv are known worldwide for a reason: Gorgeous DJs,
stylish, beautiful people and a great choice of all genres. Electronic
music in particular seams popular.

Since November 2007, Israel has had a no-smoking law, like the one we
recently got in Germany, too. The difference is that since the law was
passed, nobody in Germany smokes in clubs anymore. Not even in
underground techno-clubs. Here everybody still smokes, and the only
difference is that they put their cigarettes out on the floor, because
there are no ashtrays.

The most popular party drug seams to be something they call "liquid
cocaine." People inject small shots it into their drink. I suppose it's
the same stuff which is known in Germany under the name "K.O. Drop."
Liron is putting it into her Red Bull at will, she says it makes her
feel better.

Laura Cornelius is a journalist from Cologne, Germany, staying in Israel
for one month. This is the first in a weekly series about her
experiences of an Israeli Shabbat.

In Gaza, Hamas’s Insults to Jews Complicate Peace

In Gaza, Hamas's Insults to Jews Complicate Peace
GAZA — In the Katib Wilayat mosque one recent Friday, the imam was
discussing the wiliness of the Jew.
"Jews are a people who cannot be trusted," Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas
told the faithful. "They have been traitors to all agreements — go back
to history. Their fate is their vanishing. Look what they are doing to us."
At Al Omari mosque, the imam cursed the Jews and the "Crusaders," or
Christians, and the Danes, for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet
Muhammad. He referred to Jews as "the brothers of apes and pigs," while
the Hamas television station, Al Aksa, praises suicide bombing and holy
war until Palestine is free of Jewish control.
Its videos praise fighters and rocket-launching teams; its broadcasts
insult the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, for talking to Israel
and the United States; its children's programs praise "martyrdom," teach
what it calls the perfidy of the Jews and the need to end Israeli
occupation over Palestinian land, meaning any part of the state of Israel.
Such incitement against Israel and Jews was supposed to be banned under
the 1993 Oslo accords and the 2003 "road map" peace plan. While the
Palestinian Authority under Fatah has made significant, if imperfect
efforts to end incitement, Hamas, no party to those agreements, feels no
such restraint.
Since Hamas took over Gaza last June, routing Fatah, Hamas sermons and
media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive,
extreme and sophisticated, on the model of Hezbollah and its television
station Al Manar, in Lebanon.
Intended to indoctrinate the young to its brand of radical Islam, which
combines politics, social work and military resistance, including acts
of terrorism, the programs of Al Aksa television and radio, including
crucial Friday sermons, are an indication of how far from reconciliation
Israelis and many Palestinians are.
Hamas's grip on Gaza matters, but what may matter more in the long run
is its control over propaganda and education there, breeding longer-term
problems for Israel, and for peace. No matter what Israeli and
Palestinian negotiators agree upon, there is concern here that the
attitudes being instilled will make a sustainable peace extremely difficult.
"If you take a sample on Friday, you're bound to hear incitement against
the Jews in the prayers and the imam's sermon," said Mkhaimer Abusada, a
political scientist at Al Azhar University here. "He uses verses from
the Koran to say how the Jews were the enemies of the prophet and didn't
keep their promises to the prophet 1,400 years ago."
Mr. Abusada is a Muslim and political independent. "You have young
people, and everyone has to listen to the imam whether you believe him
or not," he said. "By saying the same thing over and over, you find a
lot of people believing it, especially when he cites the Koran or
hadith," the sayings of the prophet.
Radwan Abu Ayyash, deputy minister of culture in Ramallah, ran the
Palestinian Broadcasting Company until 2005. Hamas "uses religious
language to motivate simple people for political as well as religious
goals," he said. "People don't distinguish between the two." He said he
found a lot of what Al Aksa broadcast "disgusting and unprofessional."
Every Palestinian thinks the situation in Gaza is ugly, he said. "But
what is not fine is to build up children with a culture of hatred, of
closed minds, a culture of sickness. I don't think they always know what
they are creating. People use one weapon, language, without realizing
that they also use it against themselves."
Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group, said Hamas
took its view of Jews from what it considered the roots of Islam, then
tried to make the present match the past.
For example, in a column in the weekly Al Risalah, Sheik Yunus al-Astal,
a Hamas legislator and imam, discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that
"suffering by fire is the Jews' destiny in this world and the next."
"The reason for the punishment of burning is that it is fitting
retribution for what they have done," Mr. Astal wrote on March 13. "But
the urgent question is, is it possible that they will have the
punishment of burning in this world, before the great punishment" of
hell? Many religious leaders believe so, he said, adding, "Therefore we
are sure that the holocaust is still to come upon the Jews."
At the end, Mr. Marcus points out, Mr. Astal switches from "harik," the
ordinary word for burning, to "mahraka," normally used to connote the
Some Hamas videos, like one in March 2007, promote the participation of
children in "resistance," showing them training in uniform, holding
rifles. Recent shows displayed Mr. Abbas kissing Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, under the
slogan "Palestine doesn't return with kisses, it returns with martyrs."
Programs for Children
Another children's program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," has become infamous
for its puppet characters — a kind of Mickey Mouse, a bee and a rabbit —
who speak, like Assud the rabbit, of conquering the Jews to the young
hostess, Saraa Barhoum, 11. "We will liberate Al Aksa mosque from the
Zionists' filth," Assud said recently. "We will liberate Jaffa and
Acre," cities now in Israel proper. "We will liberate the whole homeland."
The mouse, Farfour, was murdered by an Israeli interrogator and replaced
by Nahoul, the bee, who died "a martyr's death" from lack of health care
because of Gaza's closed borders. He has been supplanted by Assud, the
rabbit, who vows "to get rid of the Jews, God willing, and I will eat
them up, God willing."
When Assud first made his appearance, he said to Saraa: "We are all
martyrdom-seekers, are we not, Saraa?" She responded: "Of course we are.
We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our homeland. We
will sacrifice our souls and everything we own for the homeland."
Along with Mr. Marcus's group, the Middle East Media Research Institute,
or Memri, also monitors the Arabic media. But no one disputes their
translations, and there are numerous Palestinians in Gaza — in the
hothouse atmosphere of an overcrowded, isolated territory where martyr
posters and anger at Israel are widespread among Fatah, too — who are
deeply upset about the hold Hamas has on their mosques and on what their
children watch.
While the Palestinian Authority of Fatah also causes some concern — its
textbooks, for example, rarely recognize the state of Israel — Yigal
Carmon, who runs Memri, said Hamas and its media used "the kind of
anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish language you don't really hear any more
from the Palestinian Authority, which hasn't talked like that in a long
Abu Saleh, who asked that his full name not be used because of his
critical views, is worried about his children. His eldest son, 13, likes
to watch Al Aksa, especially the nationalist songs and military videos.
"I talk to them about Hamas, but to be honest, it's scary and you have
to watch it over time," he said. "When kids are 17 or 18, you don't know
what happens. They get enraged and can attach themselves to radical groups."
Excluding Reconciliation
The Prophet Muhammad made a temporary hudna, or truce, with the Jews
about 1,400 years ago, so Hamas allows the idea. But no one in Hamas
says he would make a peace treaty with Israel or permanently give up any
part of British Mandate Palestine.
"They talk of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel," said
Mr. Abusada, the political scientist. "They believe over time they will
be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine."
Saraa, the host of "Tomorrow's Pioneers," is the niece of Fawzi Barhoum,
a Hamas spokesman. Some of the language used against other Arabs upsets
him, Mr. Barhoum said, but he insisted that Israel was illegitimate. "No
one can deny that all this was Palestinian land and Jews occupied the
land," he said firmly. "Therefore the Hamas charter is based on what
Israel has committed against our people and our understanding of Israel
and its practices."
The charter is a deeply anti-Semitic document and cites a famous
forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as truth. But "our battle
is not with Jews as Jews," he said, "but those who came and occupied us
and killed us." After all, Mr. Barhoum said, "the Jews who recognized
the evil of the occupation stayed outside and refused to come to
Palestine as occupiers."
"The Jews who came, came to occupy and to kill," he said.
Marwan M. Abu Ras, 50, an imam who taught at Hamas's Islamic University
for 25 years, has an advice show on Al Aksa. He is proud that his show
uses sign language for the deaf.
The chairman of the Palestinian Scholars League, and a Hamas legislator,
Mr. Abu Ras is popularly called "Hamas's mufti," because he is ready to
give religious sanction to Hamas political structures.
Last month, he criticized Egypt for closing the Gaza border at Israel's
request. He complained, "We are besieged by the sons of Arabism and
Islam, as well as by the brothers of apes and pigs."
He tried to distinguish between religious and political language, and
then said: "The Israelis can't accept criticism. They overreact, like
any guilty person." Israel for him is an enemy. "This is an open war
with Israel, with each side trying to press the other," he said. A war?
"If it's not a war, what is it?" he asked.
Then he spoke of his son, who tried to volunteer to fight the Israelis
at 17. "I convinced him to wait, he had no weapon, until 20," Mr. Abu
Ras said. "Now he's a member of Qassam," the Hamas military wing, "and
an example for young people."
Promoting an Ethos
Mark Regev, spokesman for Mr. Olmert, called on "Arab leaders who are
moderate and believe in peace to speak out more strongly against
extremist elements." He called the "incitement to hatred and violence
standard Hamas operating procedure," adding, "In Hamas education and
broadcasting they turn the suicide bomber who murders the innocent into
a positive role model, and they portray Jews in the most negative terms,
that too often reminds us of language used in Europe in the first half
of the 20th century."
The "serious question," he said, "is what ethos are they promoting?"
Hazim el-Sharawi, 30, the original host of the Farfour character on
Hamas television, and known as "Uncle Hazim," has no doubts. It was his
idea to have Farfour killed by an Israeli interrogator, he said. "We
wanted to send a message through this character that would fit the
reality of Palestinian life."
Israel is the source, he insisted. "A child sees his neighbors killed,
or blown up on the beach, and how do I explain this to a child that
already knows? The occupation is the reason; it creates the reality. I
just organize the information for him."
The point is simple, he said: "We want to connect the child to
Palestine, to his country, so you know that your original city is Jaffa,
your capital is Jerusalem and that the Jews took your land and closed
your borders and are killing your friends and family."

Weekly update 04/04/08

Dear Members,

It was great to see so many people at our AGM last week. Thank you to
Mani Silverman, Hon. Secretary of Pro Zion, for chairing the meeting.
Thank you also to Robert Kramer, Treasurer of Pro Zion, for presenting
our healthy accounts. Following the Chairman's report that highlighted
the exciting activity over the last year, and some of the plans for the
coming year we had a very interesting panel discussion on 'how do we
bring Israel to our communities'. Giving the keynote address was
Shelley Kedar, Director of Professional Development at the Leo Baeck
Education Centre in Haifa. Shelley was followed by three interesting
responses from Daniel Needlestone, co-Chair of Pro Zion; Meirav Kallush,
Shlicha of the Movement for Reform Judaism and RSY-Netzer; and Noa
Marom, Shlicha of Liberal Judaism and LJY-Netzer. Our next edition of
Shema will include the keynote and the responses. If anyone has any
thoughts on this topic, then please write in and we will choose some to
publish also. Finally, we would like to wish Rabbi Neil Janes for
chairing the panel discussion, and Finchley Progressive Synagogue for
kindly hosting us.

We have four articles attached for you this week. We have an update
from IRAC regarding their recent work in combating racism in Israel. We
also have a report from the WUPJ on the recent European Region
conference in Vienna. Next we have an article calling for more
pluralism within Judaism, arguing that there is a need for the different
denominations in Judaism to overcome their theological differences and
work together. Finally we have an article about the launch of a new
anthology of Torah commentary entitled The Torah: A Women's Commentary.
The anthology was written by 100 theologians, historians, sociologists,
scholars, anthropologists, poets, rabbis, and cantors from the US,
Canada, Israel and South America – all of them women – taking a fresh
look at the Torah. The event was hosted by HUC-JIR and Beit Daniel, the
Progressive congregation in Tel Aviv.
As ever, we enjoy hearing your news and thoughts.

Shabbat Shalom,
Charlie, Daniel and all at Pro Zion

Chumash with the Daughters of Rashi's Commentary

After 2,000 Years: "Chumash with the Daughters of Rashi's Commentary"
Event Launches Groundbreaking Women's Torah Commentary in Tel Aviv

A unique, first-time event between HUC-JIR and Beit Daniel, the center
for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv, will celebrate and launch the new
anthology, The Torah: A Women's Commentary in Israel on March 27, 2008.
For the past fourteen years, more than 100 theologians, historians,
sociologists, scholars, anthropologists, poets, rabbis, and cantors from
the United States, Canada, Israel and South America – all of them women
– took a fresh look at the Torah. The Torah: A Women's Commentary is the
result of their exhaustive research, thought, and discussion. The event
will be held at the new center, Mishkenot Ruth, which serves as a
community, cultural and educational center and guesthouse and offers the
greater Tel Aviv area a wide range of cultural and educational
activities and religious services.

The evening will open with a reception honoring Rabbi Hara Person,
managing editor of the commentary. It will include a panel discussion of
some of Israel's most influential academics and writers, including: Dr.
Yairah Amit, Professor of Bible at Tel Aviv University and a contributor
to the commentary; Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Associate Dean at
HUC-JIR/Jerusalem and a contributor to the commentary; Dr. Malka
Shalked, a writer and editor of a significant anthology of Hebrew poetry
and the Bible; and Dr. Zvia Walden, lecturer at Beit Berl College and a
board member of Beit Daniel. After the panel, a musical performance will
follow that is a creative interpretation based on Biblical text.

This Tel Aviv event is part of many events featuring the women's
commentary in North America. HUC-JIR/Jerusalem believes it will draw a
diverse crowd from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and that the commentary will
play a significant role in understanding women's roles in Biblical study.

This lecture is sponsored by Barbara Freidman, Chair of HUC-JIR's Board
of Governors, to promote HUC-JIR in Israel. It will be the first of a
series of lectures for outreach to the Israeli public.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is
the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the
academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of
Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American
and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service
professionals, and offers graduate and post-graduate programs to
scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati,
Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources
comprise renowned library and museum collections, the American Jewish
Archives, biblical archaeology excavations, research institutes and
centers, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an
array of cultural and educational programs which illuminate Jewish
history, identity, and contemporary creativity and which foster
interfaith and multiethnic understanding.
Visit us at

Thursday 10 April 2008

Imagine Jews worshipping together

Imagine Jews worshipping together

We Jews are too dedicated to defending theological turf. Consider these
disturbing scenarios: Most Orthodox rabbis would sooner close the doors
of their synagogue than permit a Conservative, Reconstructionist, or
Reform rabbi to speak from the pulpit and violate its sanctity with
"heretical" non-Orthodox teachings.
Many Reform rabbis will officiate at an interfaith wedding alongside
Christian clergy but refuse to stand under the huppa next to a
Conservative or Orthodox rabbi and condone a halachic wedding contract
of kinyan, or acquisition.
At its biennial convention in 2005, the Conservative rabbinical
association debated in earnest whether to expel traditional,
non-egalitarian congregations from the United Synagogue's highly
trumpeted, pluralistic "tent of Conservative Jewry." One rabbi referred
to non-egalitarian services as "immoral" and "misogynistic."
Through chauvinistic rebuffs, dogmatic authorities of every denomination
mark their territory, beat their chests, and bellow a warning intended
for loyal followers and heretical enemies. When the dust settles, they
adopt a self-satisfied pose, accusing the other side of starting the
fight. With swords sheathed, each dogmatist hunkers down in his own
synagogue or temple bunker to call upon God while an air of detachment
pervades the Jewish community.
Today, when hundreds of thousands of Jews opt out of Judaism,
internecine battles only contribute to the charge by the unaffiliated
that organized religion in general and Judaism in particular leads to
intolerance and fraternal hatred. When the decibel level of strident
carping drowns out the beauty and positive values of all streams of
Judaism, outsiders will choose to remain on the outside, and those on
the way out will quickly join the ranks of the unaffiliated.
THERE IS another path, one which could shore up the breach, slacken the
flow of Jews deciding to opt out, and attract back those who have
already left. Rabbis of different denominations should reach across the
divide and find theological solutions to not only work together for the
social betterment of the community, but most importantly for Jewish
unity, worship together.
For the sake of the future of the Jewish people, it is time for our
rabbinic leadership to reach out to other denominations and find the
will to pray together in one sanctuary. This would create a new paradigm
of worship, in which rabbis, standing before the Almighty, will show
their congregants that a Jewish world can stand together, not just apart.
Students of history will scoff at such an effort. The pessimistic
historian will cite millennia of Jewish theological rifts. The optimist,
however, will ignore these precedents, if only because a Jewish optimist
is committed to ahavat hinam, boundless love for other Jews.
ALTHOUGH THE theological challenge is daunting, solutions can be found.
Two recent developments illustrate the ability of Jews of different
viewpoints to pray together and welcome God into their midst.
In 2001, a group of Jerusalem residents created the first Modern
Orthodox Partnership Minyan, which seeks to readdress the role of women
in the synagogue within the strictures of halacha. As in any Orthodox
service, the Partnership Minyan consists of 10 men, separates men and
women with a mehitza, or barrier, and uses traditional Orthodox liturgy.
Yet it allows women to participate fully in the Torah reading as readers
and recipients of aliyot, and to lead certain parts of the service.
Female participants deliver sermons and lead classes for the
congregation, Partnership Minyans have now spread to several
metropolitan areas in the US.
Another promising development took place in Israel a decade ago when the
Conservative Rabbinical Assembly in Israel and the Masorti Movement
published a new prayer book titled V'ani T'filati, a traditional prayer
book which embraces pluralism and a variety of acceptable approaches to
thorny issues. It does so by offering alternative texts from which a
person may choose their prayer. An egalitarian Jew may sanctify not only
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel
and Leah. A Jew who sanctifies the exalted role sacrifices played in the
Temple skips respectfully over a paragraph in the musaf service that
views the sacrificial system as a primitive stage in the religious
development of the Jewish people.
Both of these examples allow Jews on opposite sides of the theological
spectrum to meet in worship. Although a Partnership Minyan is not the
ideal venue either for staunch egalitarians or for traditional Orthodox
Jews, it allows us to fulfill a higher value within a framework of
halacha - unity among the Jewish people. In a similar vein, Jews of
different beliefs can pray from Siddur V'ani T'filati because it
presents, together, the conflicting sacred texts of traditional and
non-traditional Jewish prayer services.
Large metropolitan areas usually boast synagogues of every denomination,
citadels of theological correctness. Yet, none of these fortified
institutions can boast that they bring Jews together as one. It is high
time for the soldiers of dogma to lay down their swords, embrace
creative solutions, and cross the widening chasm of Jewish
self-righteousness so that they can raise their voices to God. Together.
The writer, a businessman in Baltimore, Maryland, was ordained as an
Orthodox rabbi at Yeshiva University.

IRAC Update on combating Racism in Israel

Dear Friend of the Israel Religious Action Center,
Anat Hoffman has invited me to write the introduction to this issue of
The Pluralist to highlight one of the many ways you can be involved in
the important work at IRAC. As a current intern at IRAC, I have the
opportunity to learn about and in some cases participate in the many
initiatives based here. It is an optimal position from which to learn
more about Israel and the challenges facing Israeli society, as well as
to celebrate and truly appreciate the hard-won victories. Therefore, it
is exciting to announce that this Fall 2008 will see the launch of a new
Israel Religious Action Fellowship. The IRAC Fellow will be based at the
head office in Jerusalem where they will be the primary communicator for
IRAC with Jews in North America and around the world. She/he will also
learn about nonprofit management and the issues in modern Israeli
society addressed by the Center. This is an incredible opportunity for
any recent university- graduate interested in getting hands-on
experience at one of the top social justice and community-oriented
nonprofits in Israel.
Having been raised as an Israel-conscious Reform Jew, I have come to see
IRAC not only as filling a vital role in the development of Israel as a
socially just and viable state but as filling a similarly crucial role
in the development of Reform Judaism and the Progressive Jewish
identity. IRAC seeks to embody the values of the Progressive Jewish
Movement and actualize its tenets. On the one hand, the Israel Religious
Action Center serves as model for Reform Jewish action, on the other it
serves as a call for Progressive Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to have
their positive force felt in their cultural and spiritual home. Indeed,
since beginning here I have found that IRAC relishes the opportunity to
serve as an outlet for Progressive social action for Jews around the world.
Spread the word about the new IRAC Fellowship. For more information
about how to apply, please contact All applications are
due by June 30th 2008. Also look out for the new print newsletter in
your mailbox this April. Maybe next year this letter will be coming from
Aaron Dewitt Toronto, Canada University of British Columbia, '07

Racism in Israel
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21st as the
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in
commemoration of the tragedy in Sharpeville, South Africa, where, on
March 21st, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people during a
peaceful protest. This year the Israel Religious Action Center's
Resource Center has taken initiative in commemorating the International
Day Against Racism. Israeli society consists of immigrants and religions
from dozens of countries from around the world, so differences between
peoples are expected and even welcomed. Yet racism exists both in
blatant and less explicit forms.
Unfortunately, one needs only to turn on the television to see ministers
and Members of Knesset using racist and violent incitement and there are
many cases of verbal and physical assault motivated solely by
differences of color or religion. "There are those Israelis who are not
even aware of their own racism, yet slight introspection and reflection
will reveal deep racism. The terminology employed by the media incites
racism, the school books continue to promote stigmas and prejudice.
Wherever we look at Israeli society, there is room for improvement,"
says Lizi Sagi, director of the IRAC Resource Center.
But Lizi stresses that even in Israel, differences and diversity are
welcome and indeed crucial to sustaining a healthy society: "We, as
organizations and individuals working for social change and tikkun olam,
have a social responsibility to draw the line--which seems to be
somewhat unclear for much of Israel's society--where differences end and
racism begins."

IRAC's Day Against Racism
The International Day Against Racism is not widely known in Israel and
receives little if any media attention. Facing this reality,
organizations working for social change, like IRAC, face an important
yet uphill battle. The IRAC Resource Center marked the International Day
Against Racism in two distinct ways. For the third year in a row, Reform
congregations throughout Israel invited speakers other than rabbis to
give sermons related to the fight against racism. Religious leaders from
Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities, Members of Knesset, and
social activists spoke in synagogues across the country.
This year marked the launch of the Resource Center's "Racism: What's
Your Secret?" Project. Blank postcards were distributed to individuals
asking them in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and Amharic to write or draw
about a racist event they witnessed, were victimized by, or perpetrated.
The goal of the project is to reveal covert racism, that which hides
deep in our thoughts. The cards are then mailed and some are posted on
the internet. "Racism: What's Your Secret?" is a joint initiative
between IRAC and four other non-for-profit NGOs concerned with social
justice and equality advocacy in Israel: The Mossawa Centre-The Advocacy
Centre for Arab Citizens in Israel, Tebeka-Advocacy for Equality and
Justice for Ethiopian Israelis, Mixed Families-an organization that
helps mixed immigrant families from the former USSR, and Shatil-The New
Israel Fund's Empowerment and Training Center for Social Change
Organizations in Israel. The posted cards can be viewed at .
The goal in raising awareness of the International Day Against Racism is
not only to fight against racism but to educate the public about it. As
Lizi says, racism "hurts everyone even when it seems to be directed
towards one person or group. There is no 'partial racism,' racism never
just injures one group but effects society as a whole."

Report - The World Union European Region Conference in Vienna

The World Union European Region Conference in Vienna, March 13-16, 2008:
A Milestone Gathering With an Eye to the Future
by Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President, International Development
It was a historic gathering of over 250 participants from Progressive,
Liberal and Reform communities across Europe, the former Soviet Union,
Israel, and even North America and South Africa. It was a statement as
well – coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the Anschluss, the
horrific forced exodus of Jews from Vienna in World War II, and
recalling the tragic destruction of European Jewry during the Shoah. As
such, this particular conference of the European Region of the World
Union in Vienna symbolized the resiliency and power of the Jewish spirit.
For the World Union leadership in Europe and around the world, the
Vienna conference was an ideal opportunity to meet, review our recent
achievements and consider the challenges facing our organization. The
pre-conference sessions included meetings of the World Union's Executive
Board and International Assembly, during which we enjoyed the
hospitality of our Progressive congregation in Vienna, Or Chadasch.
Concurrently, there was a most successful gathering of Progressive
rabbis from Europe, the FSU and Israel to study together, discuss issues
of common concern and strengthen ties of collegiality that are so
important in a part of the world where Progressive rabbis often work
alone and under most difficult conditions.
The grand opening session of the conference took place at the impressive
Vienna City Hall, an imposing gothic structure situated along the famous
Ring Road. Participants were welcomed by Sonja Kato, an official of the
city's municipal government who spoke about the importance of Jewish
life in the past and present, referring directly to the infamous
Anschluss, the need for tolerance, and respect for diversity and pluralism.
My colleague and friend, Rabbi Michael Marmur, dean of the Jerusalem
campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, delivered
the keynote address. Michael was simply sensational in his presentation
of the unique message of Progressive Judaism in contemporary society,
contrasting our approach to those of other Jewish religious and secular
attempts to deal with modernity and tradition. His address was both
thoughtful and humorous – a combination that only he could pull off with
such aplomb.
Workshops included discussions on program initiatives across Europe;
ways to promote Progressive Judaism in congregational settings; Israel,
Zionism and anti-Semitism; the work of the World Union in the FSU (all
of our FSU rabbis were present); study in Israel through the Saltz
International Education Center; and a number of other topics related to
our movement in Europe. An impressive exhibit was on display throughout
the conference in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Union
Liberale Israelite de France, known as the Rue Copernic Synagogue – the
first Progressive congregation in France.
An additional highlight of the conference was the celebration of key
rabbis in the European Region who had earned special recognition from
Leo Baeck College and Abraham Geiger College. Rabbis Tony Bayfield,
Andrew Goldstein, David Goldberg, Harry Jacobi and Edward Van Voolen
were all presented with citations by Rabbi Dr. Michael Shire of Leo
Baeck College recognizing their 25 years in the field of rabbinic
service. Rabbi Andrew Goldstein was recognized as a senator of Abraham
Geiger College by its rector, Rabbi Dr. Walter Homolka.
These presentations were not only a fitting tribute to the rabbis, but
an important milestone in the history of Progressive Judaism in Europe.
No religious movement will succeed without strong rabbinic leadership to
sustain it and lead it into the future. Recognizing outstanding rabbis
with whom our European Movement is blessed, and the existence of
effective rabbinical seminaries to train rabbis for the future, served
to reassure us that we not only have a noble past but a promising
future, as well.
As is customary at our European Region gatherings, the conference
concluded with the Annual General Meeting, which was particularly well
attended. Rabbi Dr. Andrew Goldstein, Chair of the European Region,
reviewed the region's progress and identified a number of critical
challenges that will occupy much of our movement's agenda in the years
to come. Business matters included the welcome of Bet Orim in Budapest
as the latest affiliate of the ER; the conclusion of Katarina Seidler's
tenure as vice president; the election of Lauren Rid from Munich and
Jonathan Wootliff from Prague as new vice presidents; the conclusion of
Leslie Bergman's term as vice chair and Alex Dembitz of Hungary being
elected in his place.
The conference also marked the close of Linda Kann's tenure as staff for
the European Region and Exodus 2000, the program that twins Reform and
Liberal congregations in Britain with Progressive congregations in the
FSU. Many tributes were bestowed upon Linda for her dedicated service to
our European movement, along with well-wishes for success in her future
leadership roles for our movement.
We also extend our sincere appreciation to all the volunteers of
Congregation Or Chadasch in Vienna, and to its president, Dr. Theodor
Much, for helping to organize such a wonderful gathering.
As we concluded this most successful conference, it was clear to all
that there is much work remaining on our European agenda. We must more
effectively reshape our European Region administrative and programmatic
capabilities to respond to the growing needs of our European movement.
We must dramatically increase our financial resources to support the
emerging communities that play such an important role for all Jews in
Europe. We must do better in connecting our European Region to other
World Union constituencies, primarily those in Israel and North America.
And we must redouble our efforts to ensure that Progressive Judaism
becomes a fully and officially recognized member of all European Jewish
These are certainly ambitious challenges that we must take on if we are
to succeed as the world's leading Jewish religious movement. The Vienna
conference left us all encouraged that we are indeed ready to work for
our future as members of a proud Jewish heritage.

Update 27/03/08

Dear Members,

A final reminder and invitation to our AGM this Sunday. All are welcome,
there is no charge and you don't need to book (but if you want to tell
us you're coming it does give us an idea of numbers)
The AGM will be from 5pm following which we have our panel debate
starting at 5:30pm. This features Shelley Kadar from the Leo Baeck
Education Centre in Haifa, Noa Marom from Liberal Judaism, Meirav
Kallush from The Movement for Reform Judaism and Daniel Needlestone from
Pro-Zion. It is being held at Finchley Progressive Synagogue.

We hope you received your copy of our newsletter "Shema" this week along
with renewal forms. (if not let us know). Please do send back your
renewals as soon as possible. We would also love to hear any feedback on
Shema or even responses or articles for the next edition later in the year.

We have three short articles that we have picked out this week,
one on Judaism in Israel, one on Aliya and one on Israel and the media.

1. Pluralistic Rabbis - An interesting piece discussing who breaks the
glass in a same sex wedding.

2. Jewish Agency to Close Immigration Department - for those interested
in the machinations of the Jewish Agency here is an update on some
changes underway.

3. Where is Israel's satellite TV news channel? - An article by Gavin
Gross, director of Public Affairs for the Zionist Federation here in the
UK. Gavin recently participated in a TV debate on an Iranian funded news
channel - he recounts his experiences and asks questions of Israel's
media strategy.

We look forward to seeing you at the weekend.
Daniel, Charlie and all at Pro-Zion

Jewish Agency to close immigration department

Jewish Agency to close immigration department
By Anshel Pfeffer

The Jewish Agency is planning to close one of its most historically
important branches, the Immigration and Absorption Department, as part
of a radical restructuring plan, Agency sources said yesterday.
The plan, which Agency officials consider to be a major change in the
identity of the organization that predates the creation of Israel and
has existed in its current form since 1948, will introduce reforms aimed
at addressing a series of financial and political blows that have
plagued the organization in recent years.
"The Agency has been taking punches from every direction in recent
years; politically, organizationally and [in terms of] its image," a
senior Agency official said. Donations made by individuals in the U.S.
Jewish community, which account for two-thirds of the Agency's annual
budget, have been in steady decline in recent years. Many
philanthropists have opted to give their money to private groups like
Taglit-Birthright Israel, which organizes free tours of Israel for
Jewish young adults, or Nefesh B'Nefesh, which focuses solely on
"revitalizing" immigration.
Others have stopped giving money to the Jewish Agency because they
disapprove of politicization within the organization, or because they
hold varying opinions regarding what its main mission should be. Some
donors, responding to the trickle of Jewish immigration to Israel from
the West, and the fact that bulk of of Jews from less developed
countries, such as the former Soviet Union, have already emigrated, have
urged the organization to focus instead on educational issues rather
than aliyah. In a confidential memo sent about a half year ago from the
UJA Federation of New York, leaders of the Federation, which constitute
the largest single group of donors to the Jewish Agency in the U.S.,
demanded that the Agency concentrate solely on Jewish education. The
memo argued that deciding whether or not to immigrate to Israel is a
matter of personal choice. The recent drop in the dollar's exchange rate
has also contributed to the Agency's shrinking budget.
Efforts to find alternative sources funding have not succeeded. A $50
million donation from Russian-born Israeli billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak
fell through, just as another pledge, valued at $45 million, from the
Evangelical International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, is in
peril. As a consequence, the Jewish Agency's board of governors is
expected to announce cuts exceeding $20 million to $300-million budget.
"The new plan can either give it a new identity, or signal the end of
the road. In any case, we have no choice," a Jewish Agency official said.
Four teams are currently drawing up the reform plan at the behest of the
Agency's chair, Zeev Bielski. The JA is currently divided into three
departments: Immigration and Absorption, which sends out the emissaries
who work with Jewish communities around the world; Jewish Zionist
Education, which runs several programs at Jewish schools and community
centers around the world, and Partnerships with Israel, which is
responsible for social-welfare programs in Israel, particularly in the
Galilee and Negev. According to the committees' drafts, two new
departments will be formed, one to oversee activities within, and the
other with responsibility for those overseas. Areas currently under the
control of the Immigration and Absorption Department will be split
between the two, as well as other sections of the agency. Immigration
and Absorption's Global Center, for example, which runs the agency Web
sites, a call center and electronic communications with emissaries
abroad, will be subjugated to the director-general's office.
Emissaries dealing with immigration from abroad will not be cut
immediately, but their number will be reduced over time. Their
responsibilities will be delegated to education emissaries, who will be
given instruction in how to encourage immigration. Only a small number
of emissaries dedicated exclusively to aliyah will remain. They will be
given a broad scope of activity, with resonsibility for entire
continents, rather than being assigned to a certain country or city, as
they are now.
Another option being examined for the reorganization is the setting up
of separate companies under Agency control to carry out various
activities. Yet some senior Jewish Agency officials warn that
relinquishing its mission to encourage aliyah will undermine the
organization's raison d'etre.
Director-General Moshe Vigdor told Haaretz: "Moving to a framework of
two departments is being discussed as part of the new planning process
but it is only one of the options. Whatever we decide to do, encouraging
aliyah will remain one of our central activities."
"The Jewish Agency is a dynamic and self-renewing organization," a
spokesperson for the organization said. "Recently, staff have been
drawing up an extensive plan to examine ways of making its activities
more efficient and to provide solutions for the budgetary gaps caused by
the dollar's exchange-rate drop and world financial developments. We
have no intention of reducing our activity to boost aliyah; on the
contrary, the Jewish Agency will act to increase those activities."

Pluralistic Rabbis

Pluralistic rabbis: In same-sex wedding, both can break glass
In a solution to a decidedly postmodern Jewish dilemma, a group of
pluralistic, secular rabbis ruled this week that when standing under the
huppa in a same-sex marriage ceremony, both partners can be given the
honor of "breaking the glass."
"The breaking of the glass, a staple of every Jewish wedding, is used to
remember the egregious hatred that led to the destruction of the Second
Temple," said Ofer Korenfeld, chairman of Havayah, an organization that
arranges "Jewish-inspired" lifecycle events.
"This message is particularly pertinent to the homo-lesbian community,
which is the target of so much hatred," added Kornfeld.
Havayah's announcement came one day after the Interior Ministry agreed
to register two men as the fathers of an adopted baby boy in accordance
with a Ramat Gan Family Court ruling.
In Israel, all Jewish citizens must marry in accordance with Orthodox
Jewish law. As a result, same-sex marriages are not recognized by the
state. However, the state does recognize the commitment between same-sex
couples for adoption purposes.
Havayah belongs to a growing movement in Israel known informally as
Jewish Renewal, which encourages secular Israelis not to give up their
ties to Jewish culture, pushing yiddishkeit without God.
There are about 30 Jewish Renewal communities throughout the nation
where secular Jews meet in alternative prayer groups, study religious
texts and celebrate Jewish ceremonies without abandoning their secular
Havayah, was created by the Midrasha at Oranim Teachers College in
Kiryat Tivon; the kibbutz movement's Bina Center for Jewish Identity and
Hebrew Culture in south Tel Aviv, known as the "Secular Yeshiva"; and
the Institute for Jewish Ceremonies. The program's focus is on
celebrating, in a Jewish way, events such as births, bar and bat mitzvot
and marriages.

Where is Israel's satellite TV news channel?

Where is Israel's satellite TV news channel?
The email invitation from "Iran's Press TV" screamed out its subject
line as it dropped into the Zionist Federation's inbox: "Very Urgent
Media Request."
Would I agree to participate in a one-hour televised debate entitled
"How Will the Map of Palestine Be Determined?" After conferring with two
London-based Israeli academics who had previously appeared on the
channel, I accepted.
"Press TV" is an Iranian government-backed, 24-hour English language
satellite TV news channel headquartered in Teheran. Launched globally
nine months ago, it now airs on 10 different satellite systems and is
endeavouring to be added to Britain's Sky satellite package. The channel
can also be watched "live" online from anywhere in the world. According
to its Web site, regular programs include "Iran," covering life in the
Islamic Republic; "Middle East Today," focusing on news from the region;
"American Dream," billed as a "warts-and-all picture of life in the
USA"; and "Minbar," a weekly Q&A on Islam "fielding questions about all
aspects of the world's fastest growing religion."
Press TV claims that over 70% of the Web site's hits are from the United
States, and the station has just hired Andrew Gilligan, an influential
British journalist, former BBC correspondent and columnist for London's
Evening Standard newspaper.
PRESS TV is only one part of Iran's effort to spread its message and
authority around the world. According to a recent report on Al Jazeera
English, Iran has become a growing presence in the global media market
and is a major television producer with broadcasts in 27 different
languages such as Arabic, Urdu, and Armenian. Iran's Al Alam Arabic
language TV channel has a 60% market share in Iraq, and Hizbullah's Al
Manar Television is largely funded though not operated by Iran.
The Islamic Republic will soon begin broadcasting in Spanish to Spain
and across Latin America. By aggressively launching multiple media
outlets Iran has, according to a media analyst, "taken a preemptive
media strike" to convey its message.
In London, a Press TV taxi brought me to their impressive studios,
housed in a modern office building in west London. I was politely
ushered into a waiting lounge while producers and guests raced around
between four different sets. All of the women had their heads covered. I
was soon taken into the make-up room where an attendant prepared me for
the cameras. A fellow guest, a Western woman judged to be showing too
much flesh around her neck, was given a scarf to wear on air.
My three fellow panelists were an official from an Arab party in Israel
which has three Knesset seats and believes in the "right of return" for
Palestinian refugees; a Palestinian academic based in England; and the
director of an international peace group. The host of the program was
Yvonne Ridley, an English journalist who has been active in hard-Left
and Islamist politics in Britain as a member of George Galloway's
Respect party, and who once famously called Respect a "Zionist-free party."
It was only when I was being fitted with a microphone in the studio that
I discovered the true title of the debate was actually, "Is the Zionist
State Trying to Wipe Palestine off the Map?" Although I was treated
fairly and given sufficient time to make my arguments, and the entire
program was later broadcast unedited, the whole structure of the program
from the crude title to the pre-recorded segments were designed to frame
the discussion precisely according to the channel's viewpoint. For
example, an inflammatory pre-recorded clip showed Muslims praying on the
Temple Mount while a voice-over claimed that the foundations of the
Al-Aksa mosque were being "deliberately destabilized" by Israel, which
was trying to "ethnically cleanse" Palestinians from the holy city.
ALONGSIDE THE threats posed by Iran's nuclear program and support for
terrorist organizations, the growth of Iran's broadcasting capabilities,
and perhaps also that of Al Jazeera, is worrying for Israel. My personal
experience on Press TV and work with the Zionist Federation in combating
unbalanced British media coverage of Israel leads me to ask: Where is
Israel's international satellite TV station?
At home my Sky satellite package features not only 24-hour Sky News, BBC
News 24, CNN and Fox News, but also European English language news (Euro
News), Indian English language news (NDTV), Russian English language
news (Russia Today), French English language news (France 24), Chinese
English language news (CCTV-9), and Al Jazeera's English service.
Recently, Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz attacked Israel's
"criminal strategic insistence" on refusing to invest the necessary
resources in competent public diplomacy. With today's brave new world
characterized by around-the-clock global media outlets and high-speed
Internet access in even less developed countries, how can it be that
Israel doesn't have an English language or Arabic language news channel,
and is in fact cutting back on its foreign language radio transmissions?
Battles are now fought not only in the military field but in the arena
of public opinion. With all the ingenuity and resources available within
Israel and the Jewish world, and expertise in hi-tech and
communications, isn't it possible to fund and produce a credible,
serious TV channel presenting an Israeli viewpoint? Without it, we will
remain preoccupied with scrounging around for fair coverage on other
people's media outlets, and Israel's global image will deteriorate
further, with negative consequences for the country's future security
and prosperity.
The writer is director of public affairs for Britain's Zionist
Federation, which was founded in London in 1899 to support the Jewish
national movement.