London to host conference for support of Israel
LAST UPDATED: 05/15/2011 03:24
Over 1,000 participants to attend ‘We Believe in Israel' in order to push pro-Israel campaign, grassroots activism.
. Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
LONDON – London will host an Israel-advocacy conference on Sunday to empower its
community, and beyond, to respond to the rhetoric and campaigning against Israel
– and rouse grassroots activism to unite behind Israel as a Jewish and
The “We Believe in Israel” conference has been
organized by the British Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), a
London-based advocacy organization, in conjunction with the Israeli Embassy and
a host of community organizations.
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Over 1,000 people are expected to
attend the one-day conference, which will take place at a central London
“The Conference will unite attendees around one vital concept:
Israel, a democratic and Jewish state. It will give supporters of Israel the
chance to really make a difference – whether novice or seasoned campaigner, Jew
or non-Jew, politically active or not,” states information about the
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox, Israel’s Education
Minister Gideon Saar, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Israel’s
Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor, and Britain’s ambassador to Israel Matthew
Gould – as well as a number of MPs, academics and journalists – are among the 80
speakers confirmed to take part in 30 sessions throughout the
Subject sessions include a look at the delegitimization campaign
waged against Israel, and where the line is crossed between legitimate criticism
of Israeli government policies.
It will also look at the progressive case
for Israel and the situation on British campuses, trade unions and
nongovernmental organizations, along with the idea of endowing participants with
the tools to become more engaged and effective in making the case for
“It will be an opportunity to discuss how we work with different
faiths, political parties, trade unions and other groups in society – with over
30 sessions covering theory and practice.
Sessions will allow attendees
to develop personal knowledge and skills – encompassing letter-writing, lobbying
Parliament,” the organizers said.
“The community should be very proud of
the way organizations are putting their usual differences to one side, knowing
we need to show unity,” said BICOM’s chief executive, Lorna Fitzsimons. “Only
through working together can we convince our fellow citizens of the importance
of Israel to Britain.”
“This issue is key to us all – Jew and non-Jew
alike – and the conference is about engaging with some of the most difficult
issues of our time and gaining the confidence and knowledge to take that
understanding out to others. We urge you to join us,” she continued.
the cross communal representative body, the board is delighted to be involved
with this excellent event which unites Jews of all religions and political views
across the community.
At a time when Israel is under increasing attack
from all sides, it is vital that we emphasize the positive characteristics that
make it such an exciting and attractive country,” said Vivian Wineman, president
of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
“As the very legitimacy of
Israel is being challenged on campuses, in trade unions and even in local
council chambers, it is our collective duty to speak out in defense of the land,
the state and the people of Israel.
This event will bring us together
with friends from other communities. It will equip and inspire us to counter
this assault by telling the story of Israel as one of the social and economic
miracles of the modern age,” said Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan
A number of anti-Zionist Jewish activists have condemned the
conference and challenged its legitimacy. Fringe groups Jews for Justice for
Palestinians, the Jewish Socialists’ Group and a radical group called Jews for
Boycotting Israeli Goods said the event “will paint a distorted picture of the
role of media, allegations that Israel abuses international law, the campaign
for boycott, divestment and sanctions, the land of Israel and its traditions and
The groups back up their opposition to the conference by citing
“Israel’s illegal occupation, growing settlements, apartheid wall, and the
refusal to abide by UN resolutions, international law and humanitarian
conventions, as well as its brutal treatment of Palestinians.”
has criminalized the commemoration of the Nakba by those living within its
jurisdiction, and yet this BICOM event seeks to justify the state’s claim to
represent Jewish values of justice and compassion,” said Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
from Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
“Jewish humanitarian values have
been corrupted by Israel’s human rights abuses,” said Diana Neslen from Jews for
Justice for Palestinians.
“Who are the ‘we’ who ‘believe in Israel?’
Britain’s Jews are more divided on Israel than at any time since the state was
created,” said David Rosenberg from the socialist group.