‘Healthy and balanced debate’ needed over Israel, speaker tells Ipswich debate

Hannah Weisfeld begins her address alongside Barry Spivack and Beverley Levy Picture: ARCHANT

Hannah Weisfeld begins her address alongside Barry Spivack and Beverley Levy Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A debate held in Ipswich urged members of the community to talk openly and to “role model reasonable debate” about issues relating to Israel.

Hannah Weisfeld is the founder and leader of Anglo-Jewish group Yachad, an organisation established in 2011 to give members of the Jewish community a voice in being able to criticise the state of Israel.

She spoke to the Suffolk Liberal Jewish group in Ipswich on Thursday, October 11 and opened a debate about Labour, anti-semitism and criticism of the state of Israel.

Ms Weisfeld said: “I guess what I’m particularly interested in is the Jewish community using its power of influence to engage healthy and balanced debate.

“Being able to role model reasonable debate about what is going on in Jewish politics is critical.”

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The main points that came from the evening related to anti-semitism and the general consensus that the Labour party had overstepped the line between criticising Israeli practice and anti-semitism.

Ms Weisfeld said: “I think a lot of people in the British Jewish community believe that the situation was handled badly.

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“A lot of Jewish people in this country will not renew their membership to Labour and they think that the party does not care about that.”

Before the talk Ms Weisfeld spoke briefly in response to questions of Labour members who have allegedly tweeted anti-semitic material.

She said: “You can’t boycott people’s opinions because you don’t like them.

“You have to engage in debate and do it calmly in order to try and change opinions.”

Beverley Levy and Barry Spivack, leaders of the Suffolk Liberal Jewish Group which was established in 2005, both attended the meeting.

Ms Levy was keen to thank Ms Weisfeld for her talk.

She said: “We invited Hannah here because she is a great speaker and she stays calm in the face of adversity.

“We’ve had her here in Ipswich before and she promotes healthy debate. It’s important to have these talks.”

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