Tower Bridge and the River Thames, London.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – After 15 years steering the Zionist Federation to its high-profile position in the UK Jewish communal scene and as the leading advocate organization for Israel, its energetic director Alan Aziz has announced he is leaving to fill a similar role at the JNF.
Aziz was instrumental in ensuring the ZF’s profile in Britain not only was enhanced but was also looked to as a serious player in the community, after having been viewed for some time as a junior partner in the community with little serious influence.
Aziz was particularly pleased at the prominent role it played during last summer’s Gaza conflict, organizing rallies in support of Israel, when several other bodies failed to show strong leadership.
Aziz showed his administrative skills in successfully developing a range of activities to appeal to all sections of Anglo Jewry, including the Connect organization aimed at young professionals.
He enhanced Israel’s appeal by bringing into the wider Zionist family the Christian Friends of Israel organization, which gave voice to support for Israel in the parts of Britain where few, if any, Jews live, and he helped establish the Zionist Lobby Day in Parliament as an annual fixture.
He was especially proud of having helped create UK Lawyers for Israel, which is now considered a very useful tool in the ongoing battle against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns springing up in various sectors of British society.
But his most prominent achievement was as a very impressive and successful impresario, bringing together high-profile acts from Israel with others from the UK to give the annual Independence Day celebrations a special appeal to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.
With modesty as a keynote of his approach to his job, he was given rousing applause when he briefly spoke at the ZF’s annual dinner held early this month, their largest yet, with guest Shimon Peres.
Having long fostered the relationship with the JNF, Aziz accepted an offer to become its new CEO.
“After many years, I have decided to move from one iconic Zionist institution to another. It has been a pleasure and a privilege, even at the toughest of times, to defend and promote Israel in the UK. I truly believe that the ZF, which traces its history back to 1899 and was involved with the Balfour Declaration, is now more necessary than ever,” he said, adding he felt it a huge honor to be taking on a leading role at the JNF.