British Israel Coalition

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British Israel Coalition founder Sam Westrop on BBC Big Questions

The British Israel Coalition (BIC), is the 'grassroots arm' of the British Israel Coalition Public Affairs Committee[1] and describes itself as 'an unapologetic voice for Israel'.[2]

Contents

History

BIC was formed in April 2011 and has been described by the Jewish Chronicle as 'an umbrella group of Israel supporters' which in May 2011 purportedly had 75 members[3] but by April 2012 claimed to have more than 2,500[4] - while other sources claimed BIC has as many as 5000 members[5].

According to the New Statesman 'frustration at what is seen as the Jewish establishment’s weak defence of Israel has led to the setting up of grass-roots organisations such as the British Israel Coalition to fight what they describe as a rising tide of hatred directed at Israel.'[6]

Activities

The organisation says that it exists to 'combat the visceral hatred of Israel that is championed by the Delegitimisation Network' and to oppose what it calls the 'demonization of the one beacon of light in the Middle East'.[7] It has been involved in organising counter-demonstrations when pro-Palestinian events are held including Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests, an event held at Amnesty International UK, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) activities at the Natural History Museum and elsewhere[8] and a protest against a Jewish National Fund-organsied talk by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Hendon, north west London in May 2012.

Disagreements with other Zionists

BIC figures such as Sam Westrop and Ari Soffer have criticised major Israel lobby groups such as the Zionist Federation for not doing enough to organise counter-protests at anti-Israel demonstrations.[9][10]

Meanwhile, according to Westrop, 'a number of Jewish community figures' have 'accused the British Israel Coalition of being a hateful organisation'. One, Adam Langleben, wrote of the Hendon protest:

What shocked me was the behaviour of many in the Pro-Israel pen. You had chants fairly regularly proclaiming that “There is no such thing as Palestine”, you could hear clearly a protester shouting at a young Pakistani man filming the protest “go home to Pakistan you Paki, this is not your country” you had more chants calling the PSC “Islamist Fascists” and the people with megaphones were evoking anti-fascist language. Claiming that we (the Jews) should “Drive these fascists out of Hendon”. The language was emotive, aggressive and embarrassing for me as a Jew and as a Zionist.

Westrop calls the racist slur 'reprehensible', if true, but states 'there is no evidence for the claim'.[11]

Ari Soffer of BIC was one of the people equating anti-Zionists with fascists and is quoted in the Jewish Chronicle saying:

We turned back the anti-Zionists. This is anti-fascism work at its finest.

He added:

British Jewry no longer has to suffer under pusillanimous leadership in the face of vicious anti-Israel sentiment. Now Jews, Christians and Muslims are standing up against the bullies who make up the anti-Israel network.[12]

Working to undermine the Welcome to Palestine 'flytilla'

BIC director Sam Westrop told the Jewish Chronicle that he and 30 other BIC activists had 'worked for six months to monitor and collate references to' the pro-Palestinian so-called flytilla initiative of April 2012 and had sent details to Israeli officials and airlines.[13] The Israeli authorities sent foreign airlines details of 342 passengers who should not be allowed to board flights to Tel Aviv and detained others on arrival.[14]

Affiliations

People

Funding

BIC's sources of funding are not transparent. One commentator has suggested that it is 'denied funding from most of the established Jewish leadership'.[18]

Contact

Website: http://britishisraelcoalition.org

Notes

  1. Join Us, BICPAC, accessed 16 July 2012
  2. About Us, British Israel Coalition, accesses 16 July 2012
  3. New Coalition Feels Let Down By Community, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  4. You Don't Defend Israel Properly, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  5. Isi Leibler, Anglo Jewish Leaders and Trembling Israelites, The Algemeiner, accessed 16 July 2012
  6. Keith Khan Harris, Shhh, don't mention Israel, New Statesman, accessed 16 July 2012
  7. About Us, British Israel Coalition, accesses 16 July 2012
  8. Events, British Israel Coalition, accessed 16 July 2012
  9. You Don't Defend Israel Properly, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  10. Bernard Josephs, Street wars as pro-Palestinians take anti-Lieberman rage to Hendon, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  11. Fool to the Left of Me, Neo-Nazi to the Right, Jerusalem Post, accessed 18 July 2012
  12. Bernard Josephs, Street wars as pro-Palestinians take anti-Lieberman rage to Hendon, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  13. You Don't Defend Israel Properly, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  14. Isabel Kershner, Israel Blocks Air Travelers to Palestinian Conference, New York Times, accessed 17 July 2012
  15. Brooke Goldstein on Lawfare, BICPAC, accessed 16 July 2012
  16. Israel Advocacy Seminar, BICPAC, accessed 16 July 2012
  17. New UJS campaign is an insult to Jewish students, Jewish Chronicle, accessed 16 July 2012
  18. Isi Leibler, Anglo Jewish Leaders and Trembling Israelites, The Algemeiner, accessed 16 July 2012
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