'Our children are hostile to Israel'

Manchester's communal leaders have raised concerns that the city's young Jews are becoming increasingly hostile to Israel.

Zionist Central Council president David Berkley said parents must realise it is ever-more difficult for their children to appreciate Israel's case.

He said: "My children have only lived with Israel the regional superpower, Israel the aggressor, the occupier and human rights abuser. It pollutes the consciousness of people, and our own children, if we are not careful."

Mr Berkley and Jewish Representative Council president Lucille Cohen joined 12 other leaders at a meeting on Sunday to plan a major pro-Israel conference with Israel's Reut Institute.

"Our youngsters, our own grassroots, have lost their pro-Israel stance. A lot of young people are left wondering whether Israel is doing something wrong," said Mrs Cohen.

David Tuck, 17, a Manchester Grammar School student, said many of his Jewish school friends had begun to acknowledge arguments that questioned the moral validity of Israel's creation as a state.

He said: "I've always thought Israel has a right to exist. But it is hard when there is so much anti-Israel news and a lot of people I go to school with are quite strongly anti-Israel."

An 18-year-old King David sixth-former, who refused to be named because he thought his views would be unpopular, said many friends secretly held critical views of Israel.

"I'm not anti-Israel, but I have sympathies for the Palestinian people. In my year there are quite a lot of us brought up in left-leaning families but they don't talk about their views because the school is completely
Zionist," he said.

    Last updated: 10:09am, February 25 2011