Communal groups split over use of 1967 border on maps

By Marcus Dysch, February 20, 2014
The separation barrier near Jerusalem

The separation barrier near Jerusalem

A new grassroots campaign that asks communal organisations to use only maps of Israel which feature the Green Line has caused a split.

The Sign on the Green Line initiative was launched this week by 16 young people from a range of religious movements and youth groups.

It aims to secure promises from Jewish groups to use only maps depicting Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

So far, Liberal Judaism and the Movement for Reform Judaism have signed up along with grassroots advocacy group Yachad and the New Israel Fund.

But the Board of Deputies, Zionist Federation, UJIA and JNF have all either declined to support the campaign or remain undecided.

A map of Israel with its pre-1967 borders

A map of Israel with its pre-1967 borders

The United Synagogue would not comment and Masorti said it would not sign up.

JNF said it was “a sad reflection on those who seek to influence the communal agenda that the brightest and best of our youth should have their talents and energies diverted from more important domestic issues”.

Sign on the Green Line’s launch statement says: “Maps affect our perspective, and so accurate maps are vital to a well-informed view of the conflict. By not putting a Green Line on a map of Israel, we neglect our duty to educate with integrity.”

BBYO, Habonim Dror, LJY-Netzer, RSY-Netzer and Noam youth movements have all supported the idea and campaigners hope shuls, schools and individuals will follow.

Student Jessica Weiss, 20, is one of the founders. She said: “I went to Israel and the West Bank last year and worked on a kibbutz. I saw they used the maps without the Green Line and asked why.

“My experience of being a youth worker at Finchley Reform Synagogue made me think we need more responsible Israel education.”

But Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney played down the influence of Sign on the Green Line which, he said, “holds little sway in the community”.

“In the same way that the final borders must be mutually and democratically agreed upon, rather than imposed, any ZF policy on cartography would need to be voted for and approved by the ZF council.”

Michael Sinclair, JNF UK vice-chairman, said the charity was not political and did not believe British Jewish groups had “any right to interfere with Israel’s domestic politics”.

A Board of Deputies spokesman said the organisation would be “delighted to support borders agreed by the parties that lead to a lasting resolution to the tragic, ongoing conflict” but said nothing about its own policy on maps. UJIA refused to comment.

The JNF came under fire in the US last month for using a map of Israel which did not feature the Green Line on its famous blue box charity collection tins.

Last updated: 2:18pm, February 20 2014