Ten days ago, while I was sitting in my office in North West London, the news broke that, after an escalation of hundreds of rockets from Gaza, Israel had started to strategically bomb certain buildings in Gaza and target terrorist leaders.
The old me would have immediately started to think about how this news would affect Israel. But I have to admit that my first thought was: what should I, as the director of the Zionist Federation in the UK, be doing in the next hour in order to mobilize grassroots support in the UK for Israel.
Within an hour my office had organized a rally in support of Israel to take place 24 hours later outside the Israel Embassy where the Palestine Solidarity Committee had announced an anti-Israel extravaganza.
It can be a very depressing job at times, being constantly confronted with blind hatred of Israel.
And there are many other challenges, such as a critical lack of resources and a disharmony within my own community which prevents a lot of cooperation and partnerships from happening. Merely an hour after the ZF invited the community to join its support of Israel, another group, albeit a small one, sends out an email inviting people to join THEIR rally and thanking the ZF for standing with them. Of course we ignore such behavior and carry on, but it is sad and pathetic that distractions like this happen, and at critical times.
Since last Thursday we have run four such rallies to support Israel, and I went down to Brighton twice in 15 hours last week to attend two similar demonstrations.
The same week I had the pleasure to run a young leaders conference for young Zionists from 15 European countries — one of the 180 programs that the ZF runs each year.
Another positive note is our Israel EXPO, this Sunday, November 25, bringing the beauty and energy of Israel to London for the day. In doing so, the Zionist Federation will showcase the true face of Israel to the 2,000 people who will be attending. There will be over 50 diverse exhibitors from Israel, a jobcenter and a wide range of Israeli wine, free gifts and food.
Alongside the exhibitions we will be running a series of lectures from experts on a wide range of issues relating to Israel and the UK.
The expo had been planned long before Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. The timing means there will be a stress during the day on solidarity with Israel. And we’ll have a high-profile speaker addressing the crowds at 3pm., briefing them on what is happening on Israel.
The Zionist Federation will continue to bring Israel closer to those in the UK, through Israel Expo and many other innovative events. Next week, for instance, we are hosting Ehud Banai for a 7-night tour, and it is a relief to be celebrating Israeli culture and achievements after this week of grappling with anti-Israel hostility.
I do hope that you will all come and support the EXPO, this Sunday 10-6 at Kinloss Shul.