It is our obligation to speak against injustice

By Lord Janner, November 25, 2010

Israel is a democratic State - as is Britain. But that does not mean I agree with all the policies of either government. Indeed, in Britain, I am an active parliamentarian in an opposition party. And regrettably, there are many policies of Israel's government with whichI also disagree.

Some 13 years ago, I spent time in the Arab Israeli town of Sakhnin. There, I made true and lasting friends with some of the most honourable Israelis. They regarded themselves as proud Arab citizens of Israel. What is currently occurring with the Arab population of sovereign Israel is of deep concern.

Sadly, in recent years, much has changed about Israeli society. Fundamental red lines are being crossed that threaten to undermine what many of us have worked so hard for. As a Jew and as a proud Zionist, this deeply troubles me.

I accept, of course, that all Jews should robustly and proudly defend the rights of Israel as a Jewish State, and that all Jews should celebrate Israel's great achievements since 1948. I have always proudly spoken out for Israel over the many years of my communal service - and publicly defended her, when she has been under attack, whether in the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and in the media, or even in the United Nations. And I shall continue to do so.

Anglo-Jewry can be proud of what we do to educate ourselves about Israeli Arabs and the work in Israel we support that benefits all Israeli citizens, through projects such as the newly-established UK Task Force for Israeli Arabs and the work of the UJIA in the Galil.

I cannot be silent when the pursuit of peace is being compromised by inaction

Sadly, I have recently seen actions by this Israeli Government which have departed from the high moral purpose enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence, which I proudly remember my hero and friend David Ben-Gurion signing. I cannot be silent when I know of unequal treatment afforded to some of Israel's minorities and when the pursuit of peace is being compromised by inaction.

Mick Davis has reminded us that our obligation is to speak out against injustice, even when it is extremely awkward and fraught
to do so.

Of course, we have an equivalent obligation to defend Israel from its enemies.

If Israel loses the support of the West and becomes a besieged State, that will not only be serious and damaging for Israelis, but for all Jews. Our destinies are linked.

I would ask Israeli ministers to listen to the convictions of those Diaspora Jews who love Israel, such as myself and Mick Davis.

By expressing our heartfelt convictions, we put before the public the views of many fellow Jews and Zionists, whether they are in Israel or in the Diaspora.

Lord Janner of Braunstone Q.C
Former President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
Vice President, World Jewish Congress
Vice President, the Jewish Leadership Council

Last updated: 1:55pm, November 25 2010