Analysis: We must pay attention to UJIA concerns

Mick Davis heads British Jewry's biggest charitable investor in Israel, which spends more than £15 million a year on projects in the country, Zionist youth groups and other Israel-related educational programmes.

His intervention into the often stormy relationship between the diaspora and Israel comes amid increasing signs of unease over Israeli policies, most visibly expressed in the recent J-Call and For the Sake of Zion petitions in Europe and the United States that urged a settlement freeze.

He is not the first person to raise these issues but he is certainly the most centrist figure to have done so and is a major player in world Jewish communal politics. Accordingly, Mr Davis's comments have an extra weight and serious implications for Israel's leadership.

He has highlighted the crux of the problem - the difference between strategy and tactics - and has urged rather more of the former, and less of the latter.

A leading Zionist figure said Mr Davis's comments reflected the need "for a more inclusive framework for Israel engagement". While there was a broad consensus of support for Israel among UK Jews, there was a danger of narrowing it "if we are too quick to label people beyond a certain level of acceptability".

Most Israelis still expect Jewish organisations outside to support the government, according to a poll for the B'nai B'rith International's centre in Jerusalem. More than half felt pro-Israel organisations should support Israeli policy, compared with 28 per cent did not.

Alan Schneider, director of the centre, said: "Whereas Israelis were divided on particular policy issues, especially those being put forth by diaspora Jewish organisations, they believe that those organisations who lobby on behalf of what they believe to be best for Israel should support the elected government."

    Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010