My Two Shekels: How should we respond to a survey supporting removal of Israeli-Arabs?

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

My Two Shekels: How should we respond to a survey supporting removal of Israeli-Arabs?

by Rabbi Laura Janner-KlausnerMy two shekels

This survey does not reflect the Judaism, nor the Zionist vision, on which the Israel that I love, and of which I am a citizen, was founded. Even if the survey is flawed, it certainly reflects a significant shift in Israeli politics away from the centre to the right.

Such a survey would have been very different 10, or even five years ago. I am worried by this and the changing attitudes I experience on my regular journeys between Israel and Britain. I have faith that opinions can and will shift. Israel is one of the fastest sociologically changing countries in the world. I remember hearing as a teenager the mantra: “Israel will never make peace with Egypt.”

However, when the then-President Anwar Sadat showed visionary and courageous leadership by coming to Israel, by speaking in the most symbolic place of Middle Eastern democracy – the Knesset – this shifted the discourse in a totally new direction.

It was a symbolic gesture that totally altered national opinion and Israel’s future. The Israel that can be, that surely must be, is a society built on Jewish values and the Declaration of Independence: love towards the stranger, the pursuit of justice and a drive for equality regardless of race or religion.

In reality, Israeli Arabs are not ‘strangers’ but full citizens with citizens’ rights and responsibilities. There are outstanding examples of Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinian Arabs working together on a daily, almost mundane, basis.

You might not have heard of Sikkuy. Meaning “chance”, it is a shared organisation of Jewish and Arab citizens, working to implement full equality between Arab Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel.

They work with the authorities and the public to achieve far-reaching change. Look at the Abraham Fund building a shared future for Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens, advancing coexistence, equality and cooperation.

The Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa conducts shared existence activities and social outreach programs in conjunction with Haifa’s Arab community, aimed at increasing opportunities for frequent and meaningful contact.

These are but three examples, snapshots of the vital work being done to ensure a brighter future of coexistence. If Israelis are presented with a more compelling vision for coexistence, then views towards Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel will change.

Moving beyond initial feelings of sadness or pessimism, our response to this survey must be to redouble our efforts to strengthen the Israeli voices and organisations dedicated to building bridges and relationships of trust across the divide.

This includes dialogue both between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, and between Israeli Jews and Palestinians on the West Bank and even, in the future, in Gaza – however unimaginable that may seem at present.

• Laura Janner-Klausner is senior rabbi to Reform Judaism

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: