Palestinian envoy to speak at Reform shul

By Simon Rocker, October 10, 2008

The Palestinian Authority's UK envoy has been invited to address a meeting of Reform synagogues next month.

Professor Manuel Hassassian will speak at the North Western Reform Synagogue (Alyth Gardens) in London at an event jointly hosted by the synagogue, Finchley Reform Synagogue and the Progressive Zionist movement, Pro Zion.

Professor Hassassian - who three years ago attacked the "exclusivist, racist ideology of Zionism" at his inaugural address as the Palestinian's de facto ambassador in London - is a former executive vice-president of Bethlehem University.

He is also a board member of the Centre of Non-Violence in Palestine and a member of the Arab Association for Human Rights.

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, of Alyth Gardens, explaining the invitation, said: "We want to ensure we are engaging in dialogue with all who live in Israel and as far as possible all who will affect Israel's destiny in the coming years.

"In the summer, we had a fantastic evening with the Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor, followed up by a discussion with the embassy's public affairs officer Ronit Ben-Dor.

"We've also heard from the Bereaved Families Forum, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian parents who have suffered bereavement.

"And we welcome the opportunity to hear from Professor Hassassian, who is the Palestinian delegate general."

No one had raised any objections to the invitation, he said. "It's been very interesting to me as a rabbi that people in our community felt the need to hear new and fresh voices from Israel and her neighbours in the hope of a better future."

Last updated: 9:52am, October 10 2008