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Are we really still polls apart?

November 24, 2016 23:21

Yachad was established four years ago to advance views of British Jews who believe that for peace to break out between Israel and its Arab neighbours there needs to be a negotiated settlement involving: (a) the return of Israel to its 1949 armistice lines, with minor land swaps; (b) the repartitioning of Jerusalem; and (c) an offer of compensation - in lieu of "the right of return" - to Arabs allegedly dispossessed as a result of Israel's creation.

There's not a hope of Palestinian Arabs (to say nothing of the wider Arab and Muslim worlds) accepting such a package. But, for my present purposes, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Yachad adherents believe such a negotiated settlement can be reached and - more to the point - that, in arguing thus, Yachad is representative of (to quote the words of its director, Hannah Weisfeld) the "silent majority of British Jews who believe the best way to safeguard Israel's future is through a negotiated settlement and the end of the occupation".

Since its foundation, things have not been going Yachad's way. Bibi Netanyahu is still Israel's prime minister. The recreation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria proceeds apace. A brutal conflict in Gaza, triggered by unprovoked rocket attacks on Israel, resulted in thousands of Arab casualties and massive destruction of Gaza's infrastructure. More recently and with brazen encouragement from Palestinian leadership, Palestinian Arabs have taken to the random killing of Jews wherever they can find them - which is everywhere in the Jewish state. The "peace process" is dead.

Meanwhile, on the home front, although Yachad managed to secure for itself entry on to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Board's leadership is hardly sympathetic to its Weltanschauung and, with the election of Jonathan Arkush to the Board's presidency, the prospect has receded of a takeover of the Board by the Jewish Leadership Council, whose management is broadly sympathetic to Yachad's mission.

Now, although we may smile benevolently at Yachad and marvel at the naivety that informs its world-view, what we should not do is regard those who order its affairs as fools. For fools they are not. Something had to be done to revive Yachad's fortunes and keep it in the public eye. And something was done. An opinion survey of British Jews was commissioned, in the hope (no doubt) that somewhere in its findings there would be material that could be applied to the advancement of Yachad.

Yachad had to do something to raise its profile

And so it has - apparently - come to pass. Earlier this month, and to a media fanfare, the Yachad-sponsored survey was unveiled , under the imprimatur of City University.

While most British Jews remain strongly attached to Israel (declares the Executive Summary), the "vast majority" agree that "the two-state solution is the only way Israel will achieve peace with its neighbours in the Middle East." Sixty-two per cent of respondents agree that "Israel should give up territory in exchange for guarantees of peace", and 72 per cent accept that the Palestinians have a "legitimate claim to a land of their own." On settlements, 68 per cent agree with the statement that, "I feel a sense of despair every time Israel approves further expansion of settlements," and almost a quarter said they'd "support some sanctions against Israel if I thought they would encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process."

All in all, Weisfeld told one newspaper, the survey shows that a majority of British Jews support "Yachad's broad approach to Israel."

Really? A poll commissioned by this newspaper last March found 67 per cent of respondents supported Bibi Netanyahu. May I also point out that only a minority of respondents to the Yachad survey felt that the British government should take "tougher action" against Jewish settlements on the West Bank? And may I ask you all to consider what the response might have been to the question "Do you feel a sense of despair every time a Palestinian street is named after someone who murders Jewish Israelis?"

In other words, Yachadniks, ask a loaded question and you're bound to get a loaded answer. But you knew that, didn't you?

November 24, 2016 23:21

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