Yachad fundraiser features moving call by Israeli and Palestinian speakers to stand together

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Yachad fundraiser features moving call by Israeli and Palestinian speakers to stand together

Yachad chair Simon Sadie told over 200 guests at Yachad's annual fund-raising event that the path to reconciliation for Israelis and Palestinians was 'ever more challenging'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Yachad chair Simon Sadie addresses the crowd at the annual fundraiser
Yachad chair Simon Sadie addresses the crowd at the annual fundraiser

In the toughest of years, the full to capacity venue for Yachad’s annual 2024 fundraising said much about the progressive communal organisation’s continued appeal.

Over 200 guests, including Jeremy Gordon, Anna Posner and Alex Wright, co-chairs of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, and Kath Vardi, co-chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis, were in attendance at Tuesday evening event in central London.

Yachad chair Simon Sadie opened proceedings telling guests that as “advocates for peace and justice” it was impossible for the occasion not to reflect on the horrific events of October 7th, and also the continued “heinous loss of life and perpetuation of violence” that only sparked further mistrust between communities.

Sadie said that the path to reconciliation was now left “ever more challenging” but that Yachad continued to believe that the only option was a political solution for “the Israel we love, thrive and prosper alongside a future, viable and independent Palestinian state.”

He added:”Yachad believes that the occupation, which denies millions of Palestinians their basic civil and political rights, must end for resolution to the conflict be achieved.”

Alex Sobel, left, Hamze Awawde, and Magen Inon

The highlight of the evening was a moving, tough, but ultimately uplifting discussion with Magen Inon, a London based Israeli father-of-three, who remains a committed peace activist despite the murder of his parents Bilha and Yakovi Inon on October 7 Netiv Ha’asara close to the Gaza border.

He was joined on stage by Hamze Awawde, a Ramallah based Palestinian peace activist and conflict resolution expert, Rula Daood, the Palestinian national coordinator of the Standing Together movement, and Alex Sobel, the Labour candidate for Leeds Central snd Headingley, with the conversation being led by Yachad’s director Hannah Weisfeld.

In a moving testimony, Inon recalled “hearing calls for revenge” in the aftermath of October 7th, but added this left him “upset that people might hijack our pain.”

Inon said that along with his siblings “we wanted to be clear, we don’t want revenge, which is how our parents raised us.”

From a Palestinian perspective Awawde also spoke of the importance of resisting the “radicals who normalise atrocities.”

Yachad annual fundraiser event 2024

But he admitted:”I had worked for peace all my life, I was ready to give up” before praising the “courageous” work of Palestinians and Israelis who managed to speak out together after October 7, and the subsequent response by Israel.

To applause from the crowd Awawde added:”If we’re not willing to talk about difficult things: Naqba, war, occupation – how can we do reconciliation? What is there to reconcile?

“You don’t have to agree with me, but I won’t change my narrative to make the audience more comfortable.”

Daood also noted:“We live in a society where there’s no other choice: Either we stand up, fight and struggle together, or we sit back and do nothing.

“The first thing we did after 07/10 was give people a place to share. To assure people there’s still another way.”

Sobel led the call for “better politics.”

He added:”People say to me politics doesn’t make a difference. But we need better politics. Because the alternative is what we’re seeing now in Israel and Gaza. ”

Other guests at the event included Mike Katz, national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, and Jack Lubner, national chair of Young Labour.

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