There is no issue on which British Jews are more united and more divided – both at the same time. We are united in hope that Israel will continue to survive and flourish as a vibrant Jewish state and divided – sometimes bitterly – in our views on the best way to secure that goal.

I have asked two others with somewhat different perspectives on Israel to join with me in designing a series of monthly seminars to examine six key issues confronting the State of Israel and our relationship to it. Each session will bring together experts who approach the topic from different political perspectives – and each which will seek to inform, stimulate and promote civilised debate between those who join the programme.

The theme for the series is “The Fifth Tribe” echoing the ideas of the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, who speaks of the diaspora as the fifth tribe and who calls on us to act as partners to Israel in seeking to advance social cohesion between Israel’s four modern-day tribes – secular Jews, national religious Jews, Haredim and Arabs.

The programme for the first six sessions will cover:

  1. The Impact of the Israeli Elections: how will they affect Israel’s approach to peace, territory and the conflict with the Palestinians?
  2. How should British Jews speak about Israel?  Safe in the comfort of our own homes, can we legitimately comment on Israeli policies – and if so, can we go public?
  3. Does anti-Zionism equal anti-Semitism?  What does anti-Zionism really mean – and what does the research say about the attitudes of anti-Zionists to Jews?
  4. The Nation State law: Does Israel’s new law mean that Israel’s Jewish character will automatically trump the democratic rights of its non-Jewish citizens?
  5. The Settlements: what does Judaism say about Israel’s right to settle the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and is this in conflict with international law or practical politics?
  6. The changing face of Israel: When will Arabs living within the borders controlled by Israel outnumber its Jewish population? And what will happen if and when that comes about?

Format:  Each session will involve at least two speakers who will give an account of the issues from their own political perspective. We will then open the floor for questions and debate.

Planning Team:  Rabbi Daniel Friedman, Martin Kaye, Steve Miller

Register your interest: We plan to serve Israeli ‘street food’ so, for catering purposes, please register your interest below. We will then send you further details of the speakers and the dates and times of the seminars once they have been fixed.