Thursday, 12 July 2012

My International Division Election Manifesto

Amanda Ruback - International Division Manifesto

My professional life has focused on two areas - communications and international development, enabling me to bring value and highly relevant skills to the activities of the International Division.

Over the last 10 years I have specialised in international development, encouraging businesses to engage with communities in emerging economies – providing unique experience that the International Division can use. This includes encouraging entrepreneurship, leading sustainable development programmes, supporting women’s empowerment, and disaster relief.  My work in over 30 countries has given me the opportunity to work extensively with international organisations such as the United Nations and the Clinton Global Initiative.  It has brought me into contact with world leaders in politics, diplomacy, business and academia.

Much of my work involves campaigning and developing partnerships amongst different organisations.  I look forward to bringing these experiences to the benefit of the Board and  my community.

Of specific relevance is my work engaging with the Muslim world.  In projects in Pakistan and Central Asia, I worked very closely with the Aga Khan Development Network.  This experience has equipped me with the skills to deal with cultural sensitivities, recognising there are issues which bridge religious and communal divides for the benefit of the wider community.

And for any Deputies reading this, if you want more reasons to vote for me...

Although I’m a new Deputy, I am confident that as a fast learner, I can add value to the International Division as well as bring a blend of first hand experience of real-life international development from my professional life, together with a vision of how the UK Jewish community - with all its diversity of belief, passion, energy and intrinsic benevolence can make a positive contribution and support and protect Jewish communities around the world.

I believe that as our society becomes more polarised, as different groups become more entrenched with the real danger of retreating into fundamentalism and prejudice, we need to project Jewish values in a positive light - whether secular, spiritual, or Zionist. For me this means practical engagement, such as Israel's work in areas of the world traumatised by natural disaster, for example in Haiti. In my own work, I have succeeded in getting major private and public sector bodies to support international development in many parts of the world and in a wide range of ways - from earthquake relief in Pakistan, providing micro finance in Africa, and promoting sustainability initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe – experience that I’m sure will be valuable to the International Division.

There are many active advocate groups for Israel, but the Board of Deputies can deliver its support in more practical ways than just through hasbara and lobbying. A bigger vision is needed, and I would relish the opportunity of working within the International Division to make this happen, learning from what has already worked and sharing my ideas further.

In addition to international development, I have a background in marketing and communications and so I am sure that I can support the Division in many ways and wherever it focuses its efforts. Women now make up almost a third of all Deputies.  That’s brilliant for the Board for so many reasons – not least that we’re great at making change and doing so with creativity and insight but without confrontation or conflict. I’d really love your support and your vote – as high up your preference list as possible – to help make sure that women also make up their fair share of the International Division too. 

Board of Deputy Divisional Elections - another first for me

This coming Sunday - 15th July - sees my first experience of the Board's Divisional Elections.  Those in the know have encouraged me to get stuck in and stand for one of the Divisions - the choices are between Community Issues, Defence, Finance and Organisation and International.  Given my career is in international development, I felt that it was here that I could make the greatest contribution.

And so to the process.  Each candidate provided a 200 word manifesto which was collated and circulated to all Deputies.  We were all encouraged to reach out by phone and email to other Deputies to solicit their support - but where to start?  As a new Deputy, my network is not yet well developed, so  it didn't take long to get in touch with the people I know and ask for their support.  I joined the Facebook groups and followed and contributed to the conversations and I reached out to a carefully selected group of people who I thought might vote for me.

I may have been too selective and left it too late - but who knows.  The elections work on a STV (single transferrable vote) system.  Pretty complicated stuff, but the Changing the Board group posted a very useful 'unofficial' guide that made it clear that I need to get 21 votes to have a chance of getting in.

I've read all the manifestos; I've pulled together a list of the people that have said they'll support me and who I want to vote for and there's pretty much little else I can do... except of course share my manifesto here.  It's coming soon in my next blog.

Friday, 29 June 2012


Each week, the team at the Board of Deputies send round an email update on what's been going on at the Board and in the wider Jewish world.  It's a helpful way for Deputies to keep in touch with the wide range of issues that the Board covers and where appropriate, take action.

This week, we've been encouraged to take action on three things and I share these with you in case you want to take action too: 
1.    Show your concern about the Church of England's motion at the General Synod that seeks to deepen ties between the Church and Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).  A motion has been tabled at the Church of England’s General Synod on 10th July which seeks to formally adopt and deepen the Church’s links with the EAPPI. The General Synod is the highest legislative body in the Church of England. The motion affirms General Synod’s support for EAPPI, encourages parishioners to take part in the programme and urges Churches to make use of the experiences of returning participants. If the motion is passed it will significantly raise EAPPI’s profile and legitimacy. We can: 
a.    “Like” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Facebook page and comment on it, expressing your concerns regarding this motion.
b.   Write to the Bishop of Manchester as the chair of CCJ, expressing your concern – His address is Bishopscourt, Bury New Road, Manchester, M7 4LE.
c.    Write to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU and to William Fittall, General Secretary, The General Synod, Church House, Great Smith St, London SW1P 3AZ.
d.   Write to the Church Times. This is the most influential Church of England newspaper – its address is Church Times, 3rd Floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG
2.    I've written before about the Cooperative Boycott.  If you haven't already, sign the petition created by We Believe and the Board asking the Cooperative to reverse its policy on Israeli goods.
3.    And finally, you can sign this petition that calls for the European Union to pass an economic agreement with Israel. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Taking Action against the Co-Op Boycott of Israeli Companies

You can make a difference.  In principle, I don't agree with boycotts. I don't think they achieve their goals any quicker than building a dialogue and real understanding of the underlying issues will do.  So what can we, as individuals do about the Co-Op boycott, and what's it all about?

The Co-operative movement has refused to stock products from the settlements since 2009.  But in April, it chose to extend its policy and is now boycotting four named Israeli companies that trade with the settlements. This means that no matter where in Israel the companies' produce is sourced; it will be boycotted. The decision is seen as a slippery slope towards an across the board boycott of Israeli goods, Israeli culture or Israeli people.  

So what can you do?:

You can support the campaign that 
is aiming  to restore fairness and balance to the Co-Op's policies towards Israel.  It has already seen members of the community and their friends speak out against Boycotting at Co-Op annual meetings held across the country.  A Co-Op representative has said they have been inundated by emails objecting to the policy. Steven Jaffe, who works with the Board of Deputies has said: "There is no doubt the amount of opposition has taken the Co-Op by surprise. It is vitally important that people make their voices heard."

Sign the petition online by clicking here or print out the petition and get others to sign it.  

Success will be seen when the Co-Op drop the boycott and give positive support to programmes that improve the economy, living standards and well being of the farmers and others - many of them Palestinians - that play a role in growing most of the exports from the region.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Deputy Amanda - Amanda Ruback's blog about her Board of Deputies journey. Follow her on twitter @amandaruback1
Yesterday (Sunday) I put a tentative toe into the water attending my first Board of Deputies (BoD) meeting as an observer. I wanted to be there when the new Vice Presidents were voted in and of course, get a sense of how the Board works.
This year's elections had a different vibe.  A group of predominantly 'young' people came together to create a social network around 'ChangetheBoard' and all the vice presidential candidates had manifestos that advocated change - whether it be around the formality and format of BoD meetings, around the role and engagement of women and young people, about reaching out to the unaffiliated jew and of course, working on the issues around Israel differently from before.  
And of course, all these things and more need addressing.  The BoD should operate to the same standards that forward looking effective organisations are working to in the private, public and voluntary sector.  The formality and processes that were the norm for many of the 'older' people in the room will continue to alienate the increasing number of younger Deputies.  Why for example are reports read out to the room when they had already been issued in advance; why too do Deputies feel the need to make their own little speeches in the guise of asking questions about those reports?  We need to build on the success of the election campaigning with regular webstreaming of meetings and 'new' ways for people to join Division meetings via web and audio conferencing.
As for the elections, each of the candidates had the chance to address the Deputies and then respond to questions.  Some seemed more prepared than others and presentation counts.  But the real spirit of the room came over with Deputies' questions to the candidates.  Some of the behaviour was shameful - personal vendettas, bigotry and vitriole, with the room cheering and jeering.  In your Deputy's opinion, this does not move us forward the way we need to go - working together as a team.  If there is only one reason why we needed a woman at the top table it would be because women leaders are proven to be better communicators, better at building relationships, collaboration and teams and championing change.  
This seemed to be the majority feeling in the room as demonstrated by the results: Senior Vice President going to Laura Marks - the founder of Mitzvah Day which we are proud to support at The Hampstead Synagogue, along with Alex Brummer and Jonathan Arkush.  Our Jerry Lewis lost out this time, but I look forward to having him alongside me on the 'back benches'.
So how do I feel today after a short opportunity to reflect?  There's a huge amount to do; and I am hopeful that the new top table will be angling for the change that's needed.  As for me, I hope I can find a way to play my part and get stuck in at the first opportunity.