We need to talk about Israel

As Jews living in the Diaspora we are often faced with a difficult conversation about our allegiance or feelings or politics around and regarding Israel.  This hotbed of political activity provides fodder for the media on a daily basis.  Often a defensive stance is seen to exacerbate an already tense situation.  Only through education and knowledge is it possible to relay the facts (and not emotions) as they are in support of our Jewish nation.

JCA member organisation, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has been facilitating Talking about Israel (TAI) courses since 2010 and have had over 600 community members attend the program.  It’s an invaluable advocacy tool that gives the diaspora voice.  Two members of our community who have experienced a TAI course are taking their education further by attending the Board’s HonestReporting Mission in November.  This is their story.

Mike and Myrna Machet

 “We both attended secular schools and neither of us were involved in a Zionist youth movement. Although we obviously knew the general history of Israel and have always followed developments, our knowledge was somewhat piecemeal.  In our professional lives we’ve had to deal with a certain amount of anti-Zionist comments and queries, as have many members of our community. We’ve also lived in an environment in which many sections of the media have tended to view the Palestinian people as underdogs, and at the same time we’ve sometimes struggled to understand the path that Israel has followed, particularly when it comes to the settlement issue, which have been viewed as a flashpoint for some.

Soon after we immigrated to Australia, friends suggested we join them in attending the “Talking About Israel” (TAI) course run by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. We decided this was an ideal opportunity to learn more about the topic.   The course covered not only the historic background of Israel and the Jewish people, but gave us a context within which we were better able to understand the various issues and the complex political situation in Israel. In addition, it gave us the tools to be able to respond when these issues arise in the public domain.

The course covers huge ground, making it not only interesting, but comprehensible in spite of the speed at which topics are covered.  What we really valued was that no attempt was made to present only Israel’s side of a topic; we were always given both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives and were referred to additional sources that we could read if we wished to gain greater insight.

We didn’t always agree with the perspective, but we did value the insights and enjoyed the opportunity to hear other points of view and to discuss them in a factual, rather than emotional way.  We are grateful that the funds the Board receives from JCA enable us to benefit in this way and enables us to work as advocates for the community and Israel.

When we saw the advertisements for the JBD-HonestReporting advocacy mission to Israel taking place in November, we realised immediately that this was the next logical step for anyone interested in advocacy work.

The intensive program that has been planned will afford us an opportunity to gain further insights and understanding of the situation in all its complexities, and we have no hesitation in encouraging all members of the community to take up this unique opportunity – the first advocacy mission to be organised by our community.”

The JBD-Honestreporting mission will take place from November 26 – December 3 inclusive.

Bookings are being taken now. Inquiries: 9360 1600, click here or benmenashe@nswjbd.com