In this highly personal guest contribution, a British and Jewish blogger reflects on his youth membership of Zionist movements, the recent conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, and how his relationship with faith changes as he gets older I'm a nice Jewish boy from North West London.
I was brought up in a family that was never particularly religious – we belonged to a Reform synagogue, not an Orthodox one - but where my Jewish identity was considered extremely important, and where support for Israel was an absolute given.
On Machon, along with dozens of other young Jews of my own age from a range of different Zionist youth movements, I received training in youth leadership skills, Jewish history, and what is known in Hebrew as 'hasbarah'.
Hasbarah literally means 'explaining', but it has another meaning, which is essentially 'propaganda'.
Abigail was about as likely to move to Israel as she was to grow feathers and a beak, and I found myself strongly reconsidering my decision to move there myself. As a Zionist I felt passionately that it was of prime importance that Israel's moral transgressions – especially those in the Lebanon war of 1982 and the ongoing indefensible occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - be censured.