Forum for Discussion of Israel & Palestine

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The Forum for Discussion of Israel & Palestine is a UK based charity devoted to undermining the Palestine solidarity movement. FODIP was one of three groups named by Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson in a letter on alleged 'antisemitic incidents' in schools, to Headteachers and School leaders on 28 May 2021 as 'reputable organisations'. The other two groups were the Community Security Trust and Solutions Not Sides, both of which are pro-Israel groups.[1]

FODIP was set up by a long standing Zionist lobby group the Council of Christians and Jews which also receives funding from the Home Office BSBT programme. The CCJ is funded by a variety of other sources including a number of pro-Israel foundations. In the year to March 2020 they included:[2] • The Pears FoundationGerald Ronson Family Foundation (Headed by Gerald Ronson, the CEO of the CST) • Rubin Foundation Charitable Trust (headed by Stephen Rubin a long time Zionist activist) • Lewis Charitable TrustRothschild Trust

Amongst its Vice Presidents are Stephen Rubin (of the Rubin Foundation Charitable Trust) and Henry Grunwald (Formerly President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a founder and first Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council). Trustees include Rabbi David Mason (also an advisor to Solutions Not Sides) and Vivian Wineman (former President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews).[2]


Views and activities

Rabbi Mason presented a panel event session on contemporary anti-Semitism in the UK and how the CCJ are working to facilitate Jewish and Christian dialogue. The panel was run with CCJ director Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko and CTBI deputy director Peter Colwell, other UK delegates. Mr Colwell is one of the Directors of Churches in Britain and Ireland.
The session featured work that had been undertaken by them on developing a resource for Christians to teach about anti Jewish tropes and how they can enter discourse. Rabbi Mason looked at the Jewish aspect and talked about left wing anti Zionist- anti Semitism, with it being a challenge in some Church groups. There was a discussion about the IHRA definition of anti Semitism and Peter Colwell discussed the Christian point of view and what can be done to promote dialogue. Further questions and discussions took place after an inspiring session.
Rabbi Mason said, “As a trustee of CCJ UK it was great to represent what is an active branch of the International CCJ. The conference offered some fascinating insights and developments on how Christians and Jews understand their inter faith relationship and how they can together combat growing racism and antisemitism. A helpful and exciting conference with much good theological work being undertaken on Jewish Christian relations. The potential for a new era of a partnership of equals in the face of radical difference is possible.”[3]

Funding

Among its funding sources FODIP has received money from the Home Office Counter Extremism project Building a Stronger Britain Together. It has also received funds from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government:

There was also £62,000 for the Tough Options programme of the Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine (FODIP). This teaches 14-19 year olds how to look at how difficult issues, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its impact on communities in the UK.
In 2019 FODIP held workshops in Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester, with the aim of providing young people with “skills and information for talking about Israel/Palestine across religious boundaries, emphasising the shared concern that Jews, Christians and Muslims have for the Holy Land and those who live there”.


Links with CCJ

Several members of the CCJ are on the board of, or work for FODIP. For example

  • Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield is a former Head of the Movement for Reform Judaism and a President of the Council of Christians and Jews.
  • Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford, was Chair of the Council of

Christians and Jews

  • Jane Clements, chair of FODIP was formerly Chief Executive at the Council for Christians and Jews.[4]

Others involved in FODIP include Rabbi Warren Elf who was among 400 Jewish Leaders & scholars who in 2014 denounced “Genocide” Charges Against Israel in relation to the attacks by the Israeli Occupation forces on Gaza.[5] Another adviser is Muddassar Ahmed a PR professional who is a member of the US Atlantic Council the NATO supporting think tank.[6] Ahmed also cites the work of the CST as if it was a reliable source and has praised interfaith organisations (such as the Faiths Forum for London and the Faith and Belief Forum ) that seek to normalise Zionism in the Muslim community.[7]

People

Former associates

Patrons

  • Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford, has written extensively on the ‘Abrahamic faiths’ as well as on Christian theology dealing with matters including ethics, secularism and war and peace. Former Dean of Kings College, London, Professor Harries was Chair of the Council of Christians and Jews and founded the Oxford Jewish Christian Muslim dialogue group.
  • Shaykh Dr Abdal Hakim Murad (Tim Winter) is Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, and is acknowledged as a leading Islamic scholar in Britain. His inter faith work includes joint editorship of Abraham’s Children (2006) with Lord Harries and Rabbi Norman Solomon.
  • Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield is a former Head of the Movement for Reform Judaism and a President of the Council of Christians and Jews. A pioneer of serious inter faith dialogue in Britain, he has spoken and written extensively on the process and his collaborative publications include Dialogue with a Difference (1992), He Kissed Him and They Wept: Towards a Theology of Partnership (2001) and Deep Calls to Deep (2017) jointly edited with Alan Race and Ataullah Siddiqui.[8]

Affiliations

  • Solutions Not Sides - FODIP director sits on the advisory board. Solutions Not Sides works closely with FODIP - for example much of the video produced by FODIP on their ‘Tough Options’ features footage from SNS workshops.[11]

Contact

Notes