Jewish values and force in armed conflict

March 5, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Thirty members of Melbourne’s Zionist community have participated in a forum instigated by the Jewish People’s Policy Institute (JPPI) on the question of “Jewish Values and the use of force in Armed Conflict”.

Attendees

Attendees

The forum was convened by the Zionist Council of Victoria at the request of the JPPI and was moderated by Zionist Council Community Relations Chair John Searle.

The JPPI forum is an initiative of Israel’s Foreign Ministry which seeks to gain the opinions of Jews living in the Diaspora on significant issues. The results of similar meetings conducted in Jewish communities worldwide are then examined by the JPPI to try to gain some understanding of the global response to these issues. This year’s topic was spurred by last year’s conflict in Gaza, and the resulting consequences on Diaspora communities.

The participants at the forum represented a wide demographic in terms of age, religious and Zionist affiliation and education, found the experience enriching and engaging. Everyone who attended was encouraged to participate and often starkly differing opinions were welcomed in an incredibly respectful and polite manner.

The issues were explored through an in-depth analysis of several case studies of Israel’s military operations in recent years. This critical ethical evaluation was then followed by a more general structured discussion on the perceptions, expectations and relationships that non-Israeli Jews hold toward Israel and its various foreign and military policies.

A visit from two Israeli war veterans from Zahal Disabled Veterans Organisation at the end of the forum highlighted the practical realities of some of the concepts that had been discussed in the abstract and provided a unique, sobering and thought-provoking perspective to the group. The young men who bore the scars of serious injuries suffered in the Gaza conflict were a reminder to all of the sacrifice that Israel and her army makes in its efforts to minimise harm to civilians in very difficult circumstances.

Zionist Council President Sam Tatarka described the forum as an incredibly productive endeavour, explaining “we greatly appreciate the opportunity to feed into Israeli policy, and to bring members of our community together for these important conversations.”

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