Why we draw the line
Articles from 1) Jewish Forward, 2) Haaretz, 3) Movement for Reform Judaism
See video Sign on the Green Line explainer
British Jews: Showing Green Line Is Not ‘Insane’
By Jordan Marsh and Jess Weiss, blog, Jewish Forward
February 24, 2014
Throughout our history, young Jewish voices have played a vital role in shaping the Jewish story. Young people lead and teach other young people and take on significant leadership roles. Youth empowerment is highly valued, and it was with this feeling of empowerment that a group of 16 young British Jews — of which we are a part — stood up and asked British Jewish communal organizations to “Sign on the Green Line.”
Education is a core Jewish value, and we are simply asking for a fair and balanced education in regards to Israel. We, the members of the Sign on the Green Line Campaign, are asking for Jewish schools, synagogues, youth movements and Jewish communal organizations to only use maps that show the 1949 armistice lines. Why? Because we believe that our community is presenting us with inaccurate maps of Israel, which are ill-informing us as to the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Jewish community often worries about young Jews and their lack of Israel involvement. But how can we possibly expect young people to get involved with a country about which we do not properly teach them?
Many claim that to show the Green Line on a map is to make a huge political statement. But showing a line that is seen as a recognized armistice line (not a final border), and that differentiates between the two areas of land, is the least political statement one can make on a map. Conversely, we would ask: What maps are being used by all the organizations that think this campaign is to be dismissed? And exactly what political message are they communicating with the maps they do use?
Whatever you think the final solution to the conflict should be, pretending that there is no difference between the lands on either side of the Green Line is simply false.
The fact that most young Jews must dig deep to learn about the Green Line is shameful. The question of what will eventually arise as the mutually agreed-upon final borders is not at all relevant to this discussion and is not the aim of this campaign. This discussion is about how we educate our future generations about what exists today. Young people deserve balanced education. That’s all we’re asking for.
Isn’t that a reasonable request from the next generation?
Yet there are some within our community’s leadership who, for some reason or another, are frightened by this campaign and seem determined to drown out the voice of the youth, the next generation of communal leaders. They have targeted the fact that it is led by the youth of British Jewry by throwing around labels of “insanity” and “ridiculous,” and suggesting that this campaign will aid those who wish to boycott Israel. None of the critics have explained why using a Green Line is so problematic.
We ask those communal leaders, some of whom have chosen to remain anonymous, what exactly is so “silly” and “insane” about this campaign. Is it the fact that the campaign seeks to provide maps that highlight the complexity of a political situation? Is it the fact that it threatens the status quo of Israel education within the Jewish community? Or is it that this campaign — which was conceived by and is being run by a bunch of young Jewish adults — might possibly make a change?
Wisdom is not exclusively held by the elders of our community and we, as members of the next generation, have as much of a right to speak up about the way in which our community is run. We are the ones who are running the Israel education programs on the ground. We are the ones who are leading and providing a role model to the next round of young leaders. And we are asking our community to listen to our concerns instead of patronizing and dismissing us.
“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth,” said JFK. In a nutshell, that’s what we, the 16 campaigners of the Green Line Campaign, are attempting to achieve.
Now tell us: What is so un-Jewish about that?
U.K. Jewish students are urging their community to only use maps that show Israel’s 1967 borders for the sake of an honest, transparent basis for educating about Israel.
By Amos Schonfield and Ella Taylor, Haaretz
February 23, 2014
Several weeks ago, Club Deportivo Palestino, a top Chilean football team, was banned from wearing their shirt after it caused an international dispute, because the shirts depicted a map of pre-1948 Palestine in the shape of the number 1, denying any Israeli claim to the land.
The cartographical choices we make are a fairly accurate barometer of an individual’s perspective. It shows how we wish to frame a debate.
It is this belief that has driven the 16 young British Jews that lead the “Sign On The Green Line” campaign to ask that schools, synagogues, youth movements, and organizations that make up the British Jewish community pledge to only use maps of Israel that feature the Green Line. The Green Line marks the armistice line at the end of the 1948 War of Independence and Israel’s official border until the 1967 Six Day War, in which the West Bank and Gaza Strip came under Israeli control; today the term “Green Line” typically refers to the pre-’67 border.
Regardless of one’s personal politics, the use of maps featuring the Green Line is integral to cultivating a well-informed community. This border is recognized by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities as the basis upon which a peaceful solution should be established (albeit with mutually agreed land-swaps). We want to ensure that this position, endorsed by both parties, is accurately represented in our educational materials.
Conversely, the absence of the Green Line in our materials sends a dangerous message that we in Anglo-Jewry wish to dismiss the measures that have been adopted, in Oslo and beyond, and one that flattens the complex issue about the status of the land over the Green Line.
Between the 16 of us establishing the Green Line campaign – our ages range from 17 – 24 and we hail from a variety of religious, educational and political backgrounds – we accept that regardless of the lens through which you judge the conflict, your vision can only be improved by acknowledging the realities of the situation, whether they are to your liking or not. It is necessary to recognize geopolitical facts as they currently stand.
The backlash from the members of the U.K. Jewish establishment was unsurprising. One communal leader, who wished to remain anonymous, argued that the campaign was “as silly as it gets”, meanwhile another, a former president of the U.K.’s Zionist Federation, declared we needed an injection of “sanity”.
These responses are based on the flawed assumption that a group of young diaspora Jews are on a crusade to establish the borders of a Palestinian state. The reality is that these leaders are misrepresenting and exaggerating the position of a group of students who wish to set a reasonable standard for transparency in the informal and formal education sector in which they are personally invested, both as participants and informal teachers. The Green Line Campaign is not defining where future borders will be drawn, but merely rather asking British Jewish groups to use maps that clearly show the Green Line, representing a move towards more honest education about Israel within Anglo-Jewry.
Our aim is to change the way in which Anglo-Jewry educates about Israel: We believe that failing to educate honestly is a disservice to our young people, who should be equipped with the best possible education in order to lead the Jewish community in the future. Just as Israel has demanded greater transparency amongst Palestinians with regards to ceasing to educate their young people – and their Diasporic football teams – towards enmity to Israel, we believe that the recognition of the Green Line on maps of Israel across organizations, youth movements and Jewish communities in the UK will lead to greater transparency and integrity about educating about Israel in the UK.
Amos Schonfield was born in London to an Israeli mother and British father. He studied at the Jewish Free School in London. He is a long-time member of the Masorti Youth Movement Noam, will graduate this year in International Relations at Leeds University.
Ella Taylor has recently completed the RSY Netzer youth movement’s two year leadership program, belongs to the Finchley Reform Synagogue and is a student at the Jewish Free School London.
Media release, Movement for Reform Judaism
February 24, 2014
‘Sign on the Green Line’ is a campaign created and run by 16 young people from across the Jewish community. The aim of the campaign is to encourage British Jewish organisations to only use maps of Israel that show the Green Line. This aligns with our policy on Israel; we are committed to two viable states as the only just and realistic solution to the present situation and we are unequivocally Zionist with a non-negotiable commitment to the State of Israel and its security.
The Movement for Reform Judaism supports this campaign. The Green Line is a geopolitical reality that should be recognised in the way we teach about Israel. As the campaign notes accurate maps are vital to a well-informed view of the conflict. By not putting a Green Line on a map of Israel, we neglect our duty to educate with integrity.
The Green Line may not be the final definitive border between these two states and we make no call for it to do so but it is right that Jewish organisations use maps which reflect the reality that the West Bank and Gaza are not integral parts of the State of Israel.
We do not regard this stance as being in any way controversial and it is not any way critical of Israel. It is important to note that maps used by the Israeli Government, for example on websites, also recognise this reality and the website of the Embassy of Israel in London notes that ‘The West Bank, which has never been annexed by Israel, sits between the Green Line and the Jordan River’