Senior Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein's participation in a British Zionist Federation conference in London this weekend was cancelled, by mutual agreement, after Rubinstein was quoted as having described Israel as "an apartheid state" at a UN conference in Brussels.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Thursday evening that Rubinstein, a member of the Haaretz editorial board who has taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, told the UN conference: "Today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities."
On Friday, Rubinstein confirmed he made the comment, at a meeting with officials from the federation.
The British Zionist Federation said in a statement that it regularly holds meetings where a wide variety of views are expressed, and that while there is no question that Rubinstein has every right to express his views about Israel, it was mutually agreed that his participation in the Zionist Federation conference had become untenable.
Federation Chairman Andrew Balcombe said, "Criticism of Israeli policy is acceptable. However, by using the word 'apartheid' in a UN conference held at the European Parliament, Danny Rubinstein encourages the demonization of Israel and the Jewish people. I believe he was naÃ¯ve to attend the UN conference. Indeed, his own newspaper had earlier reported that Israeli and EU lawmakers had attacked the UN meeting for having a completely one-sided, anti-Israeli agenda."
The three day Zionist Federation conference, entitled "Israel at 60," ends on Sunday.