A Masorti Judaism panel with Israel’s ambassador in the UK went ahead as planned this week despite opposition from many members, including the entire youth movement.
Noam Masorti Youth said it would not participate in the online conversation with Senior Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and organised an alternative seminar because of the views previously expressed by ambassador Tzipi Hotovely.
In a statement before Wednesday’s online event Noam said: “We believe in the importance of engaging with Israel as it is, with all the joys and challenges which come with that.
“Despite this, we feel that Hotovely’s comments are beyond the pale.”
Hotovely, who was appointed to succeed Mark Regev as ambassador last summer, is a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
A former settlements minister, she favours Israel’s annexation of territory in the West Bank and declined to support a two-state solution in a BBC interview earlier this week.
She has previously also sought to deny Palestinian people have a connection to the Holy Lands and courted far-right Jewish organisations, including the anti-Arab group Lehava.
Masorti Judaism’s chief executive Matt Plen defended the decision to go ahead with the panel event even though Hotovely’s views “clash with some of our deeply held values – articulated most clearly by some of our young people through Noam”.
He went on: “I believe engaging with her was the right decision. I’m proud that Noam organised an alternative educational event on issues of racism and democracy in Israel society.
“The fact that Masorti Judaism can hold on to core values while encompassing diversity and respectfully challenging those we disagree with is surely one of our movement’s greatest strengths.”
Hotovely said during the event that she wanted to engage further with young Jewish people and promised to invite members of the Noam movement to embassy to talk to her about Israel.
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