November 8, 2010
The Reform Movement in Britain has teamed up with Oxfam and Mahapach-Taghir to help bring prosperity and educational opportunities for women in marginalised Israeli communities.
It is doing so to build understanding and trust between the Palestinian and Jewish communities living side by side in Israel by empowering and educating women, and by extension, their families and even their communities. The project will widen the scope of an existing programme run by Mahapach-Taghir in seven Israeli communities.
These ‘Learning Communities’, as they are known, have been created in marginalised and socio-economically challenged locations where Jewish women of Ethiopian, Russian and Middle Eastern descent, as well as Palestinian women, live. They constitute some of the most vulnerable people in Israeli society.
Why are we working with Oxfam on this project?
The British Jewish community loves Israel and for reasons that are obvious, sees it through particular eyes. Because there are those who decline to understand the Jewish commitment to Israel, who are not sympathetic to the Zionist project and who will use any means to delegitimise Israel, the leadership of the British Jewish community has tended to take the view that anyone who does not see Israel through our eyes is an enemy. This attitude has been taken towards all the major aid agencies.
Jenny Pizer, Vice-Chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism with responsibility for Israel affairs says: "This new project sponsored by the Movement and Oxfam takes an important extra step by providing the opportunity for women to be formally educated and pursue careers of their own. I visited the project earlier this year and was struck by the passion and commitment of the women involved. They really are amazing".
I suppose, in some people's eyes, MRJ is being antisemitic for helping Israel live up to its own standards.