Talks Series (Meretz UK) Press Release

This was issued by me on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 on  The series was put together by me, wording by me, design of leaflet Hagai van der Horst.  Proof reading credits go to the volunteer of Meretz UK at the time, who prefers to remain unnamed. This version is smaller than the original.


Talks and Lecture Schedule March – June 2010

  • Sunday, 25th of April – 20.00 Saul Issroff: “Who were my ancestors?”  Saul Isroff expert on genealogical and family tree research introduces its general themes, with attention to past Jewish populations.   Q.& A.  Saul Issroff is a retired dermatologist, with an interest in Jewish genealogy and history. Amongst others he is founding member and one of the vice-presidents of the Jewish Genealogy Society (UK). He is also project director at the Centre for Study of Migration and Jewish Genealogy, University of Cape Town and on the board of governors of Jewishgen. He has published works on Jewish history, especially migratory history in a number of publications. If you want to know more about your ancestors, or where to start looking, don’t miss this session! 

  • Monday 10th of May – 20.00 Mossi Raz: “From Lebanon to Gaza – Challenges to War and Peace.” Former elected Meretz Israel parliamentary representative hosts talk on Gaza 2009, Lebanon 2006, and the current crisis in the Middle East.  
    This May, Mossi Raz, a long standing defender of peace and civil rights will be in London to lead a discussion on public responses to IDF military action in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009. Having been Peace Now’s former Secretary General, Raz has later been closely affiliated with the agenda of Israel’s Meretz-Yachad party. His talk will address the debates surrounding the recent IDF incursions which attracted attention and caused disputes both in the Knesset and among Left-wing Israeli liberal groups like Meretz. The event is set to provide a panoramic and up to date account on the current political situation in Israel, informed in part by his involvement with the ground breaking joint Palestinian / Israeli ‘All for Peace’ Radio station.


  • Monday 24th May – 19.30 The Radical Jewish East End in History and Song. The history and the songs of the Jewish radical past in East London. A joint talk by social historian Ben Gidley and  teacher and musician Vivi Lachs. Dr. Ben Gidley is a Senior Researcher at the Centre on Migration Policy and Society (COMPAS) at Oxford University. He has studied and written about the history of London’s Jewish community, focusing on the many Jewish radicals in the 20th century London East End. Vivi Lachs has been teaching and running education projects in Hackney schools for the past 24 years. She is also the singer with the band Klezmer Klub where she has been researching, recording, and writing about Yiddish songs of London and the social histories they contain. A very well reviewed CD of these songs, Whitechapel, mayn Vaytshepl has just come out and is available from 
  • Sunday, 13th June – 19.30 Mira Vogel: Jews, Israel and The Green Party. Perceptions and Stereotypes. This is an in depth analysis into the mechanics of a potential political ally of Jewish people and Israelis on the Left, with ever surprising revelations. Mira Vogel works at Goldsmiths College as an academic developer with a focus on technology-enhanced learning. In early 2000 she became very worried about the academic boycott campaign against Israel and later became involved with Engage, which ran an information campaign against the boycott attempts. When this campaign found a home in the Green Party, she and other Green Party members founded Greens Engage which hopes to influence Green Party policy regarding Israel, as well as to oppose anti-semitism. Mira Vogel’s presentation will give an overview of the efforts by Green Party members to respond to the intersection of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism, a discussion of the effects and limits of activist blogging, and a call for solidarity with and from Israeli progressives.
  • Sunday 27th June – 19.30 The emerging Civil War over Israel within the Jewish community – and how to deal with it’. Dr. Keith Kahn-Harris is Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck College, the convenor of the intra-Jewish dialogue project New Jewish Thought and co-author of the book ‘Turbulent Times: The British Jewish Community Today’. He is a frequent columnist in the The Guardian and has published widely on contemporary Jewish themes, as well as conducted independent and academic sociological research.

    All talks £8, conc. £6.50, Members: £5, conc.£4 (*) on door. Our events are open to people of all backgrounds. Ha Shomer House is located 5 minutes from Finchley Road London Underground station (Jubilee & Metropolitan Line) and bus stops (C11, 82,13, 187) and less than 10 minutes from Swiss Cottage (Jubilee Line, and buses 13,31, 46, 82, 113, 187, 268, 603, C11) and West-Hampstead tube and  B.R. Parking is free on Sundays. Ha Shomer House is a ground-floor venue without stairs. For more details about the events or Meretz UK, (*) Meretz UK annual membership is available for £20 / £10 concessions. 

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Message from the UK Executive Director Daniel Zylbersztajn

This press release was first published on

Friday, 4 September 2009

Message from the UK Executive Director Daniel Zylbersztajn

It is my great honour to have become the executive director of Meretz UK very recently. It is a post of great importance in Jewish life, and yet the Left of Jewish life here and in Israel has been much ignored in the last decade. There were frustrations about the peace process, even two outright war situations, that caused some to reach a state of apathy and disinterest. There were the boycotts and outbursts of some British politicians that pushed at times well meaning left wing supporters to the right, and then there were perhaps some mistakes and inactions of our own making.

I have been selected after careful deliberation in the hope that the hope for equality, civil rights, human rights and peace between Jews and Palestinian and Israel and its Arab neighbours have an address once again. If you support all the above, Meretz UK is the place to be, to support and help re-build.

There can be no doubt that there is much to do and so much need for us to exist. The debates between those who claim that in January 2009 the IDF did nothing wrong and those who claim that disturbing irregularities by the IDF occurred (to put it mildly) is still ongoing. Netanyahu and Lieberman are running Israel in a shocking coalition that left settlements in tact or in expansion, that left the rest of Israel in a dire state of pay cuts, diminished social welfare provisions and increased hatred of non Jewish migrants (legal and illegal) and a murderous attack on a Lesbian and Gay centre in Tel Aviv. What is more disturbing is that in deed the majority of Jewish Israelis voted for this political leadership.

Here in Britain Jews have seen an increase in anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli attacks, there is little plurality within the British Jewish hemisphere, and it seems almost impossible to be Zionist and not end up under the wings of some right wing unquestioning quango, in spite of the fact that much of Zionists history was governed by groups who were inspired by trying to create a better future in Palestine, from communal Kibbutzim pioneers, socialist ideologues who dreamed of being able to convince the Arab workers to unite with the Jewish workers, to outspoken advocates for human and civil rights.

The treatment of migration and immigrations and the rise of brown-shirts are themes that Jews in Britain are sensitive to. We have witnessed successes by the BNP (most shockingly in Manchester) and Europe-wide the sympathy for migrants has worsened, especially that of Africans in Southern Europe, but not exclusively. Only recently a BBC investigation confirmed that if you had a foreign name or accent some estate agents agreed not to refer foreigners to a racist landlord. My own Polish spelled name and German accent would certainly fail in some areas in Britain.

I hope that we can enlarge our movement in the UK. There are reasons here and abroad why we must not give in. The Jewish Left was once a very strong parameter of Jewish life in Britain, and anyone who makes claims otherwise is only ignorant of his or her own history. Israel likewise needs more supporters, who are willing to commit to the only political movement in the Knesset (currently three seats) that guarantees equality, civil rights, human rights peace as well as for the right of Jews to live in Israel. Most recently green and animal welfare issues were also put forward by Meretz there.

I think it is fair to say that we at Meretz UK are Jews and supporters with a moral conscience, without being in denial of Israel or consumed with what the right claims is self hatred. To the contrary. There is a proud Jewish tradition, far reaching too, of humanitarianism, of care for others, and fighting for equality and justice and peace.

This year we have seen the rise of Barack Obama to power. Nobody thought it could be possible, now let us work for a better future in Israel and here in Europe against the barrage of the right and far right.

In this spirit I will try and rebuild Meretz UK with all it needs. We will need some time, but also some new people to help.

Daniel Zylbersztajn

I want to March for Gaza but can’t…

I want to march for Gaza, but I can’t

I would like to march against Israel, really. I don’t think that bombing campaigns like the one we currently see are the answer at all. I am appalled by its dead, especially the innocent victims within it.
I am a member of the Left Jewish bundle, and was a long standing supporter of parties such as left wing Israeli Peace party Meretz and organisations like the shared Arab / Jewish village Wahat al Salam ~ Neve Shalom. I have Palestinian and Israeli friends and they expect me to march.
However I will not march in London against the war. The reason is that inspite of my opposition, I feel highly uncomfortable amongst the demonstrating crowd, for it appears somewhat suspect to me. The burning of the Israeli flag as quoted here at end of a London demonstration and the atmosphere of unidirectional violence are just confirming this.

Were I in Tel Aviv, I would instantly join in, but here in Europe other factors are preventing me to go. The problem is that I don’t understand what mobilizes people to march especially and every time it involves the Israeli / Palestinian problem and how the damage and terror imposed onto my Jewish friends in Israel is belittled and marginalised.
There is of course a difference if somebody is terrorised and another is killed, if one side has a hand full of dead and the other 100s, but there seems to be something in the opinion out there that suggests that Hamas somehow was right sending rockets on an almost constant basis (except the fragile ceasefire of a few months before the recent war eruption) onto Israeli towns across the border. Supposedly it is OK because Israel was and still is an occupying or controlling force.
continue…. (leads to external page)

Ed note: I did go on a demonstration two weeks later, convinced of some of the debates in the comment section. However my suspicions were unfortunately reconfirmed on that demonstration, leading to yet another debate on Liberal Conspiracy (here) on the merits of SWP let Peace demos.