The Inaugural Young Professional Lobby for Israel
June 7, 2013 2 Comments
On Wednesday I joined over 70 young professional types for a lobby of Parliament organised by Israel Connect (the youth wing of the Zionist Federation). This was held in partnership with Christian Friends of Israel. It was also the first of its kind, in being exclusively for the under-30’s.
Israel’s Deputy Israeli Ambassador, Alon-Roth Snir, opened with a briefing on the Middle East situation, focusing on the political turmoil in the Arab states and the problems Israel faces when nobody is quite sure who will be in charge next door in a year’s time, or even six months. While its hard to point to a time where the situation in the Middle East has been rosy and ordered, this level of uncertainty is unprecedented.
The Deputy Ambassador grabbed attention in February this year when he was disrupted by a gang of 40 thugs at the University of Essex who caused a lecture to be cancelled. Essex, I am told, has been traditionally dubbed ‘Red Essex’, but such displays of fanaticism are not uncommon. The sheer level of vitriol on campus can be intimidating for people with pro-Israel leanings, to the extent that many I know admit its not worth the trouble of speaking out.
Here is where lobbying events like this can help. What was most remarkable at the Israel Connect lobby was the amount of sincere cross-party support for Israel on display in Westminster. Young friends of Israel, who often have to deal with so much hostility, particularly on campus, should be heartened to see the level of backing we actually have.
While I am sure one doesn’t have to be a particularly discerning reader to realize that my own views are far from left-wing, when it comes to Israel, opinions should no be split on a left/right basis. I am quite convinced that this is what the enemy has been attempting to do; namely, trying to bring the entire left into their camp with the aim of automatically precluding anybody of a ‘progressive’ bent from supporting Israel. This is an effort all friends of Israel have to fight ferociously. It is perhaps our single biggest challenge. The middle 80% of the population should be entirely open to us.
So while I am a Conservative, I most enjoyed hearing from people like Labour’s Fabian Hamilton MP, who spoke about his positive experiences in bringing Muslim colleagues to Israel to witness the reality there.
Louise Ellman MP also highlighted the importance of putting across Israel’s case to our MPs, especially those who may not have strong opinions on Israel, so that they are not solely hearing misleading information from the anti-Israel side.
All well and good, but I would add that this is an effort that should not be confined to MPs.