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UK’s Zionist Jewry Rejects British J Street Clone

There is a single picture of a Yachad visit to an Israeli Jew's grave. Whose grave is it? Baruch Goldstein's.

Yachad UK visit to Israel, Jan. 8, 2012

Yachad UK visit to Israel, Jan. 8, 2012
Photo Credit: Facebook

The Zionist Federation, the official representative body of Jewish organizations in England, this week rejected the membership application of Yachad UK, the leftist J Street-esque organization which was formed in England in 2011.

The vote took place on Monday, February 25, and was conducted as required by the ZF’s constitution: member organizations vote to decide whether an applicant organization’s mission and actions are consistent with the mission of the ZF.

According to a statement by the ZF, every constituent organization was given the opportunity to consider Yachad’s application, and representatives of those organizations consulted with their members in order to make a decision.  This process began ten months ago.  When the ZF met on Monday, the organization representatives voted on and rejected Yachad UK’s application.

Although ZF leadership members were unwilling to respond to media inquiries about the decision, they pointed to the deliberative process in which the ZF had engaged, which was consistent with prior membership decisions.

In response to the vote, Yachad, which is Hebrew for “together,” went on the offensive.  It instituted an email campaign informing contacts that they are being discriminated against, along with a twitter attack with the hashtag “whatswrongwithmyzionism.”

Yachad’s first line of offense was to present themselves as innocent Zionist victims of overbearingly aggressive, right-wing Zionist Jews.  They claimed at the top of their website that, “78% of Anglo Jewry favour a two state solution. Is their Zionism not good enough for the Zionist Federation?”

The Zionist Federation issued a public statement in response.  “It is important to note that despite claims by Yachad’s statement, the ZF strongly supports peace in the Middle East and the two state solution.  To say that we do not is factually incorrect.”

WHAT IS YACHAD UK?

Yachad UK is quite similar in orientation and mission to J Street in the U.S.  The tagline for Yachad is “together for peace, together for Israel,” and it describes itself as “the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement for British Jews,” exactly the same claim J Street makes for U.S. Jews.  About the only difference between the two organizations, as Hannah Weisfeld, Yachad’s director, said at its launch, is that Yachad will not engage in political lobbying.

And just as is the case with J Street, there are many Zionists who do not believe Yachad’s self-description is accurate.  They instead claim that Yachad’s relentless criticism of Israel and refusal to make any demands on the Arab Palestinians reveals the true nature of Yachad, one that they believe is instead an anti-Zionist orientation.

DOES YACHAD PRESENT ITSELF AS A ZIONIST ORGANIZATION?

The pingpong match of public statements declaring either that Yachad is a Zionist organization that should be welcomed into the UK’s Zionist Federation, or that it is an anti-Zionist organization which has no place in the ZF is not especially helpful in determining the truth.

Rather than look at the public rhetoric, The Jewish Press decided it is most useful to see what Yachad really does and where Yachad really goes. The best way to do this is to peruse the activities posted on Yachad UK’s Facebook page.

This is what you will find there:

• November 11 and February 10, Yachad showed the movie “The Law in These Parts,” a movie that is “a compelling indictment of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” another shows a Yachad trip to Israel in which the participants join up with an Israeli leftist activist group, Ir Amim, to rally against Jews living in parts of Jerusalem.

• February 11th and 12th meetings with former Haaretz editor David Landau, who famously told U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape Israel,” and that it has always been a secret erotic dream of his to discuss this with her.”

• July 29, June 21, June 18, June 17 meetings with Nadav Greenberg of “Just Vision,” who recently completed a documentary, “Budrus and Home Front: Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah,”  that presents four people, all of whom oppose the Israeli efforts to allow Jews to live in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood of Jerusalem, known to pro-Arab Palestinian activists as the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Most of the more than 100 photos on Yachad’s page are of Yachad trips to Israel.

According to the photos it has posted, every Yachad trip to Israel includes only visits to “Hebron and East Jerusalem,” with the exception of its Pesach, 2011 trip.  That trip was described as Yachad’s visit to “East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In the only pictures in which there is a country designation, the town of Hebron is described as “Hebron, Palestine.”  That’s Chevron, to which the Jews have a deed recorded in the Book of Genesis.

Yachad UK has not posted a single picture of visits to any historic or important sites within Israel – Yachad’s trips are the inverse of the standard Israel trips of mainstream Jewish organizations, where few dare to venture beyond the 1967 Armistice Line.  There is a single picture of a Yachad visit to an Israeli Jew’s grave.  Whose grave is it?  Baruch Goldstein’s.

It appears that, based upon its Facebook albums, Yachad believes the only important parts of Israel to see are those areas in which one of their guides will explain to students and other members how awful Israel is to the Arabs.

Of the dozens of photos Yachad posted, the only ones which reveal unequivocally pro-Israel support was one welcoming home Gilad Shalit, and two which criticize George Galloway for refusing to debate Israeli Oxford student Eylon Aslan-Levy at a debate last week.  In the talkbacks to the Galloway post, however, Yachad posted that it retweets Galloway, but considers his specific refusal to debate with an Israeli unacceptable.

At least one ZF member has said he will call for a revote on whether to include Yachad in the Zionist Federation, but sources with contacts within the ZF say that its members will not deviate from the democratically made decision.

One long-time British pro-Israel activist, Clive Hyman, told The Jewish Press that “some people have apparently forgotten that ‘democratic’ does not mean everyone gets in.” It means, he said, “the enfranchised vote according to the procedure laid out in a governing document.”

The Movement for Reform Judaism disagreed with the decision to exclude Yachad.  According to the MRJ, Yachad accurately “reflects the will of UK Jewry for a two state solution.”

UPDATE: Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, wrote an op-ed published in The Daily Beast in which she is not only critical of Galloway’s refusal to debate an Israeli Brit at Oxford, but strongly criticizes his anti-Israel bigotry.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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14 Responses to “UK’s Zionist Jewry Rejects British J Street Clone”

  1. Anthony Kent says:

    Yachad should go back to their carrot juice and sandals and leave ZF in peace.

  2. Stephen Hoffman says:

    Thanks for being one of the first press articles to point out the fact that despite claims to the contrary The ZF explicitly supports the two state solution.

  3. British Jewry is to be applauded for recognizing this group for what they are — a false flag advocating that the land of Israel be Judenrein — because that will be the result of the compromises and unilateral give-aways they preach.

    Less than a week ago the Oxford Union voted against BDS. Who would have expected such things in the land of Londinistan!

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    One can support a two state solution without retweeting the evil Galloway! What are they smoking?

  5. Yachad says:

    We actually tweeted his Twitter account with a comment about his discrimination about Israelis, as he was arguing with other tweeters that it was right to refuse to talk to Israeli citizens. The full tweet:

    "Interesting stream of tweets from @georgegalloway on why he discriminates against Israeli citizens. http://bit.ly/ZjCQTx"

    We also linked to the raw video footage of him walking out and to Hannah Weisfeld's Daily Beast article condemning his action (which is linked in the article above), so it's somewhat misleading to say we "retweet" him.

    The actual statement made on the Facebook page linked to in this article is "We tweeted George Galloway's Twitter feed today, so we are hardly boycotting him." By that we meant that we had linked to his feed above, and that we wrote to him:

    "@georgegalloway @dan_currency, @Eylon_AL is a dual UK/Israeli citizen:http://bit.ly/13rWJsc Would you see him if he was your constituent?"

    The point we were making was that Yachad opposes BDS and boycotts of Israeli individuals.

  6. Stephen Hoffman says:

    On the Galloway point, to be fair Yachad has been strongly against Galloway, so I don't think it is fair to criticise him on that. They even produced quite a funny picture on the matter. I certainly don't agree with them on everything, but where they haven't supported Galloway, I think its important in the spirit of accuracy to point that out.

  7. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    Before this comment was posted I had updated the article with a link to Weisfeld's Daily Beast article – which was not mentioned on the Yachad website, but I thought it presented an important point. The comment by Yachad in the talkbacks certainly made it sound as though it tweeted Galloway approvingly, as it was a defensive response to a criticism of Yachad being critical of Galloway. However, I subsequently went through all of the tweets on Weisfeld's, Galloway's and Yachad's feeds and removed the "favorably" adjective regarding Yachad's retweeting of Galloway. Ultimately, the best way to determine what kind of Zionism Yachad represents is by looking to see what it does and where it goes with respect to Israel. Yachad's Facebook photo albums provide that window.

  8. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    see above comment

  9. Ethan Perks says:

    To bad US Jewish/Zionist organizations didn't do the same to J Street. Or do you have any doubt that ANY organization involving Georgr Soros is anti-Zionist!

  10. Ethan Perks says:

    To bad US Jewish/Zionist organizations didn't do the same to J Street. Or do you have any doubt that ANY organization involving Georgr Soros is anti-Zionist!

  11. Ron Kall says:

    The self hating Jew is everywhere! Their goal seems to be to destroy Israel. J Street, Yachad UK all cess pools of self hating Jews! No other explanation is possible of why these Jews do nothing but attack Israel/Jews!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yachad you and J street deserve retribution for your revolting activities you are the acne of the face of the jewish people

  13. Anonymous says:

    thanks well said lets go and beat them up

  14. Ruth Ben-Or says:

    This article lost all credibility for me when I read the infantile comments about the editor of Ha'aretz and Condoleeza Rice, and I am no fan of Ha'aretz as a rule.Sorry, Jewish Press, epic fail.

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