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.
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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.