Support, love and engage
Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub has addressed UJIA's annual Ambassador's Lunch, attended by 52 people and at which £20,000 was raised to help educational programmes in northern Israel.
Addressing the standing-room-only event at Bank Leumi UK's West End headquarters, Ambassador Taub praised the work of UJIA. He said: "It's very, very special to me to be at an event for UJIA, with which I have a tremendously close relationship and was a tremendously important part of my childhood growing up in this country."
And just before embarking on a wide-ranging and hugely entertaining tour d'horizon of the situation in the Middle East, Ambassador Taub noted that there was a "connection between the issues of the Arab Spring and the UJIA. If you look at what's going on in the counties around Israel, you see this wave of upheavals that you probably have to go back more than a century to find anything remotely similar. And you try to understand what's happening and you can try to analyse it as being something that's generational or tribal or ethnic. But if you look at it, you see there's a tension between those who think about the future and want to invest in the future and those forces that are trying to pull them back to some primitive and violent past."
This linked also to Ambassador Taub's experience in peace negotiations. "There are three types of negotiation going on: that which happens across the table, between the sides; the negotiation that happens on your side - along - the table; and then at a certain stage, you have a negotiation with your constituency - behind the table."
And there's the negotiation which goes on in "each negotiator, between the voices of the grandparents and the voices of the grandchildren. And the challenge of the negotiator is to make the voice of the grandchildren at least as loud, at least as potent as the voices of the grandparents. And I think that the connection with the UJIA is that it is focused on the voices of the future, whether it's here in the UK where the main challenge is identity, or whether it is in Israel, where the focus is primarily in the Galil, where the main challenge is not identity but opportunity. Actually working to increase the potential to invest in the future is something UJIA has done, and continues to do, magnificently. It's an absolute pleasure to be here under the auspices of and for UJIA."
UJIA CEO Douglas Krikler noted: "The ambassador's nimbleness and fleet of foot have served him greatly over the past year, and we recognise that and applaud it. He has a glittering diplomatic past in the Foreign Ministry."
Also addressing the guests, UJIA Campaigns Chair James Burchell said: "I would be surprised if anyone here doesn't have their own UJIA story. Whether it's you, your children or for some of you your grandchildren! I'd like to take a moment to briefly summarise my UJIA story one which started through a UJIA programme, 15 years ago.
"That programme here in the UK ignited my passion for the work of UJIA. UJIA gave me my first tour of Israel and my love for the country not when I was 16 but when I was 35, It showed me the importance of the work we do as an organisation both in Israel and in the UK.
"It is against a background of unprecedented economic pressure and consequent impact on the charity sector that I stand before you today, proud of what UJIA is doing for our youth, creating a connection and love of Israel for the youth here in the UK and in Northern Israel. It is thanks to the generosity of our remarkable donor base that we have maintained our impact and engaged more young people with Israel.
"The UJIA now has a very clear focus on Israel and Israel engagement..."
He added: "UJIA's vision is of a community which loves, supports and engages with the people of Israel. We know this engagement is the key to securing both communities. That is why across the UK we invest so heavily in providing the support and programming for the Jewish youth movements, educational tours to Israel, primary and secondary schools both Jewish and mainstream and the Union of Jewish students. We guide our young people on a journey, strengthening their Jewish identity and providing a meaningful and in many cases life-long connection to Israel. The demands on us are growing. This year more than 25% of all children who are on Israel Tour applied for bursaries.
"Let me remind you once again to think about your UJIA journey. How UJIA has impacted on your life or those of your children and grandchildren. We can tell many stories but we all have one responsibility. To act. I am proud of what we have achieved at UJIA but there is so much more still to do. We can't continue to develop our youth's love and engagement without you."
Larry Weiss, CEO Bank Leumi UK, said: "At Leumi UK we take social responsibility very, very seriously. We are pleased to be hosting UJIA, which is a key driver not only for funding projects in Israel, but also in trying to ensure Jewish continuity here in the UK."