By Simon Rocker
May 11, 2011
Sunday’s “We Believe in Israel” conference has been billed as the largest advocacy of its kind in this country. But if you go to the conference home page, you’ll notice that the word “advocacy” does not appear.
Advocacy has political overtones. The buzzword instead is “engagement”, which signals an attempt to appeal to a broader constituency, including in particular the so-called “huggers and wrestlers” - those who identify with Israel but may be critical of some of its policies.
One of the tracks on Sunday is being run by Makom, a Jewish Agency-backed organisation which specialises in education about engagement. It is headed by Jonathan Ariel, former UJIA director of Jewish renewal, who is coming to the conference along with another expat, Robbie Gringras, founder of the Besht Tellers drama group.For Makom's programme at the conference, see Robbie's Makom blog.
A recent research fellow at Makom, incidentally, was Dr Alex Sinclair, the author of a provocative article in Haaretz a few weeks ago arguiung that non-Orthodox Judaism was essential to challenge the “Orthodox narrative” in Israel which had been responsible for the “mistaken settlement enterprise”.
Meanwhile, back on the subject of Sunday's conference, the organisers must clearly believe in miracles: they have only allowed a quarter of an hour for lunch.