UK rabbi inspires Israel advocacy conference

After reading a report published last year by Reut Institute, Rabbi Guttentag decided it was time to act.

November 25, 2011 03:26
2 minute read.
Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag)


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LONDON – A Manchester rabbi, inspired by an Israeli NGO’s study identifying London as a major center in the delegitimization campaign against the Jewish state, has organized one of the largest Israel advocacy conferences seen in the UK.

The Big Tent for Israel conference, which takes place in Manchester on Sunday, was the brainchild of Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag of Whitefield Synagogue in North Manchester.

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After reading a report published last year by the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute, titled “Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy,” he decided it was time to act.

The report referred to London as the “Mecca of delegitimization” and said that through a coordinated and ideological campaign, Israel was subject to a “global systemic and systematic assault” on its political and economic model that aimed to “precipitate its implosion.”

Guttentag said he’d found the report’s findings extremely disturbing, and this had inspired him to bring together the grassroots initiatives to help respond to the incessant rhetoric and campaigning against Israel.

“Our aim is to make the Big Tent a massive springboard to mobilize many more grassroots activists who are willing to take on the challenge of reversing the trend of delegitimization of Israel and to ensure Israel’s image is honestly and positively projected to the many people who have been exposed to anti-Israel propaganda and media bias,” he said.

The conference will cover the five spheres in which the global campaign to delegitimize Israel is played out, as identified by the Reut study: the political arena, the media, the academic world, churches and trade unions.

Speakers at the conference include Jerusalem’s new ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub; MPs Ivan Lewis, Louise Ellman and Guto Bebb; Robbie Sabel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Histadrut chairman Yakov Triptou; the Reut Institute’s Eran Shayshon; Itamar Marcus from Palestinian Media Watch; Adam Levick from Comment is Free Watch; and a host of other organizations and grassroots representatives.

The conference has been endorsed and supported by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Christian friends of Israel, among others. Organizers are expecting over 1,000 participants, with transportation arranged from major cities.

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