EMANUEL Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins has encouraged members of the community who are concerned about an organisation taking part in a webinar this Sunday to join the discussion and find out for themselves.
The latest instalment of the Peace is Possible series, an initiative of Emanuel Synagogue and Kehillat Masada, features an organisation called Combatants for Peace.
The group describes itself as “a group of Palestinians and Israelis who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence in our region: Israeli soldiers serving in the IDF and Palestinians as combatants fighting to free their country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation”.
This Sunday, Kehillat Masada together with Emanuel Synagogue present a bonus session in the Peace Is Possible series…
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff commented, “While Emanuel Synagogue is free to host whomever it wishes, for an organisation to refer to ‘Palestine’ as ‘a country under Israeli occupation’ plays fast and loose with the truth and gives out a damaging and inaccurate message.”
He added, “Ironically, organisations such as Combatants for Peace make it more difficult for peace to be achieved because they place all the blame for the dispute on Israel and ignore the failings of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which deliberately perpetuate the conflict.”
But Rabbi Kamins said his understanding of the group, who he first became aware of while on an interfaith trip to Israel in 2016 – alongside Kehillat Masada’s Rabbi Gad Krebs, representatives of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Inner West Chavurah and the Uniting Church – is that they support a two-state solution.
“I had more than an hour meeting with them and what I understood is that these were past Palestinian militants and Israel soldiers who have said there’s got to be a peaceful way forward to resolving the conflict,” he said.
Addressing the group’s description as “fighting to free their country, Palestine, from the Israeli occupation”, he said, “I’m assuming from that context that they’re speaking about the territories that are meant to be the state of Palestine, as opposed to how I think others are reading it, as they’re saying getting all Israelis out from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
“I think that’a reading it out of context and inaccurately, and so that’s why I’m saying come, they’ll talk and there’s time for a Q&A on Sunday.”
Responding to Alhadeff’s assertion that the group makes peace more difficult by laying all the blame on one side, he said when he met them, “I remember it being a very powerful evening and that wasn’t my impression.
“There’s also a documentary about them, and that wasn’t my sense from the documentary either,” he said.
For more information, visit www.emanuel.org.au/event/peace-is-possible.