Israel, Palestine and anti-semitism
“a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking evening”;
“helpful to have different perspectives but also our party’s political context taken into account”;
“two excellent speakers”;
“a really helpful and enlightening evening”;
“good audience, with plenty of time for positive discussion”
“we need more evenings like this”;
These were some of the comments after a meeting in August, hosted by Bedwell & Pin Green Branch. ‘Israel, Palestine and Anti-Semitism’ was the title, and it drew a good-sized audience to hear two speakers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
Judith Watt returned from her placement last year in Bethlehem and gave a brief historical context. In particular, she told the story of Israeli occupation of the West Bank through the life of one Palestinian man she had met, who started with a house and small piece of land, which was progressively taken from him over a period of years to make way for of Israeli projects, including the building of their security wall.
Leah Lavane did her EAPPI placement in Hebron in 2012, and last year was also part of the largest ever all-Jewish delegation to Palestine. She is currently co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour. She described the much-publicised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-semitism and some of the examples, and explained some difficulties in these examples to organisations including the Labour Party. These relate to how these may be interpreted to restrict criticism of the Israeli state.
The following discussion was thoughtful, respectful and enlightening and, if the speakers didn’t have to go for a train, could have continued for a long time. A valuable evening.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel [ https://eappi.org/en ] was established in 2002 and is a programme of the World Council of Churches. It partners with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights organisations and its international teams record human rights abuses and accompany people under threat of violence.
Jewish Voice for Labour [ https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/ ] was formed in 2017 as a network of Jewish members of the Labour Party to “tackle allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party” and to uphold “the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities.”