Q & A with Friends of Israel Educational Foundation

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On Thursday November 12, WEFI attended a question and answer session run by the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation, and hosted by the River. Answering the questions were two Israelis recently graduated from high school, Ilana Ushomirsky and Roi Nachlieli, both 18. Ilana majored in biology and Arabic, and is thinking of becoming a doctor after her military service, which will be in an intelligence unit. Roi majored in physics, Arabic, and history, and would like to study law after his service, which will be in the navy.

FOIEF is an educational charity which has been promoting public understanding of Israel since 1977. representing the organization in Wales and the South West, Jane Woodford has been touring educational establishments with young Israelis every year. The students, who are aged 16 and up, hear the Israelis talk about life in Israel for young people, religion in Israel, and doing military service, among other things.

There wasn’t time to hear their full presentation, so the two Israelis answered questions from the audience. They answered thoughtfully, and were obviously very knowledgable on the subjects. One of the subjects discussed was the dangers facing Israel; to them the internal problems are more worrying than Palestinian terrorists, though Iran and Turkey also worried them.

On the subject of every day life with Arabs, the picture was mostly positive. There is a high level of integration of Arab and other minorities in Israel, and during the current wave of terror attacks, very few of the perpetrators have been Israeli citizens. Roi’s answer on this was particularly memorable: “Once you get to know people, they’re people”.

They also mentioned the reception received in the UK has been very positive, though they did face accusations from a student claiming Israel kills people indiscriminately. They were able to have a reasonable conversation with the person though, and perhaps to open the person’s mind to other possibilities.

In addition to the excellent work she does in schools, Jane Woodford is starting a new friends of Israel organization for Wales. It will become active in the coming weeks and we look forward to co-operating with her on issues of mutual interest.

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