G U I D I N G P R I N C I P L E S
1. On Israel & Zionism
The Understanding Israel Foundation (hereinafter referred to as the "Organization") exists as a pro-Israel, Zionist organization and will adhere to the definition of Zionism as the “national and historic right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel,” which is expressed in the current State of Israel as a democratic and Jewish country. While interactions through dialogue, debate and discussion is welcome, and specific criticism of Israeli policy is to be expected, denials to Jewish rights to self-determination as expressed in the modern State of Israel will not be tolerated. Natan Sharansky’s “3D’s of antisemitism” when it comes to Israel will also be the benchmark for any interactions with the public and within the organization: that is, the Delegitimizing, Demonizingand holding Israel to Double Standards will not be allowed.
2. On Antisemitism
The Organization adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism for all interactions: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” Interactions which match any of these will not be allowed.
3. On Democracy
The Organization values, affirms and upholds the respective democratic natures of Trinidad & Tobago and Israel as defined in the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, and Israel's Declaration of Independence and its Basic Laws. The Organization supports the democratic nature of both Trinidad & Tobago and Israel as the basis for the anticipated relationship between the two countries and will build upon these shared democratic values to encourage the flourishing of ties. The Organization will work within the framework of democracy as defined in each country and will promote democratic values and the rights of individuals to the freedoms associated with being citizens of democratic Trinidad & Tobago and Israel.
4. On Politics
The Organization will remain politically nonpartisan and unaligned to any political party in Trinidad & Tobago and/or Israel; it will work across all levels of political affiliations to meet its goals.
5. On Religion
The Organization is a religiously pluralistic and diverse one, which affirms and respects the rights of all members and citizens of Trinidad & Tobago and Israel to their freedoms of religion and religious expression. If these religious expressions do not contravene any of the guiding principles stated within these Guiding Principles, the Organizational Values and/or the Vision and Mission Statements, then members may express any religion. The Organization respects the rights of its members to differing religious expressions. The disparaging of alternative religious beliefs and/or proselytization will not be tolerated.
6. On Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Acceptance
The Organization will not discriminate based on gender, gender self-identification, race, ethnicity, tribal affiliation, religion, creed, nationality, sexual preference or any other individual rights to identity not expressly stated herein. The Organization promotes equality, justice, democracy and the rights of all peoples to self-expression, dignity, security, rights and freedoms insomuch as these do not contravene any of the Guiding Principles, the Organizational Values and/or the Vision and Mission of the organization. The Organization affirms, welcomes, accepts and encourages diverse voices and talent who support Israel, as well as those who want to engage in respectful discussions about Israel.
7. On Partnerships & Collaboration
The Organization intends to partner with a diverse group of organizations which can help the Organization accomplish its goals. Collaboration and building partnerships are cornerstones to meeting the organizational objectives. With strategic partnerships in Trinidad & Tobago, the Caribbean region, Israel and the Jewish and Christian worlds, the Organization realizes that it represents many different viewpoints and will partner with many competing ideologies; the organization will therefore do its best to represent each fairly.
8. On Peace
The Organization affirms and will advocate for and educate about peace between Israel and her neighbors within the following established protocols, and for as long as they remain Israeli policy: 1. the Oslo 1 (1993) and 2 (1995) Accords, and the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the official representatives of the Palestinian people; 2. the Abraham Accords (2020) and the peace treaties Israel enjoys with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994); 3. Israel’s historic relationship with Turkey, Azerbaijan and other non-Arab Muslim-majority nations; and, 4. the advance of further recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland and peace between Israel and other countries which currently reject its existence. This is founded on the biblical principle: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you have peace. May there be peace within your walls, serenity within your mansions. For the sake of my brethren and friends, I ask that there be peace within you. For the sake of the House of the L-rd our G-d, I seek your well-being” (Psalms 122:6-9). At the same time, the Organization supports any and all measures the Israeli government deems necessary to ensure the safety of Israel, Israel's citizens and Jews.
9, On Palestinian Independence & Statehood
As a declaratively pro-Israel organization, the Organization should not be thought of as an anti-Palestinian organization. The Organization does not negate the right and legitimacy of Palestinian ambitions for independence, self-determination and statehood, nor does the Organization presuppose that Israeli independence, self-determination and statehood is affected by the possible solution to the conflict with a Palestinian independent state or any other solution to the conflict which is accepted by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in its Israeli recognized role as the representatives of the Palestinian people. As outlined in 8. Peace, above, the Organization acknowledges and refers to the Israeli recognition of the PLO and the peace process between Israel and the PLO. The Organization affirms that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are the only way to a true and lasting peace for the two national people living in the land west of the Jordan River. The Organization asserts that its pro-Israel stance does not make it an anti-Palestinian organization, nor is it within the Organization’s scope to define, determine or comment on Palestinian self-identity. The Organization opposes a one-state solution as it is outrightly rejected by both Israel and the Palestinians.
10. On Arabs and the wider Muslim World
The Organization promotes the notion of peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, as well as Israel and other nations antagonistic to Israel's existence. The Organization seeks to reach out to Muslims in Trinidad & Tobago and elsewhere for respectful dialogue and interactions regarding the peace process, Israel and the conflict, as long as none of the Guiding Principles, Organizational Values and/or the Vision and Mission Statements are contravened. The Organization will actively work with Trinidad & Tobago Muslims to explain Israel’s stance its pursuit of peace and explain how Israel can benefit the local Muslim population, as much as Israel has benefitted the Arab and Muslim countries with which it has relations and/or peace treaties.