UK Lawyers for Israel

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UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) is a British organisation which describes itself as using the law 'to combat attempts to undermine, attack or delegitimise Israel'.[1]

It is a company limited by guarantee and claims to have worked on a range of projects including disrupting boycott activism, a flotilla sailing to Gaza, and working on cases in relation to universities and the media.[2]

It appears to have close links to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[3]

History

UK Lawyers for Israel has been operating since approximately 2011. It was co-founded by Jonathan Turner[4] whom the Jewish Chronicle reported was also 'head of the Zionist Federation's legal group'.[5]

A page on the official website of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated May 2011 states that the group was created 'following the Maale HaChamisha conference'.[6]

Besides having taken place in Israel, the precise nature of this conference is not clear. However, in 2012, Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom reported that Israeli government officials were ‘training legal experts around the world to deal with the demands of delegitimization against Israel’ and it is possible that UKLFI have emerged from such an event, making it, effectively, a civil society organisation established at the behest of a government.[7]

Activities

Among other activities UKLFI has held a two-day seminar 'jointly with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israel Embassy in London' on 17-18 June 2012, 'Legal Challenges and Opportunities in Israeli Policy and Advocacy'. Papers were presented on asymmetric warfare, defamation, BDS and other topics.[8]

It has also hosted a series of talks by Brooke Goldstein, director of the U.S.-based Lawfare Project in Manchester and London in March 2012. In September 2011 it held a roundtable discussion chaired by Dr Guglielmo Verdirame on the implications of the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state.[9]

Criticism of Yachad, proposed ZF legal tours

In March 2014, UKLFI reportedly discussed plans to organise trips to the occupied territories 'run by the Zionist Federation with UKLFI participation' to counteract the 'distorted anti-Israel impression' or tours currently run by liberal Zionist group Yachad. Their aim would be to provide what the group described as 'a balanced picture of the legal side of Israel’s civil administration of Judea and Samaria' (the West Bank).[10]

Facilitating civil actions against protesters

In April 2014 it was reported that UKLFI had 'secured the support of an unnamed MP' who had agreed to propose an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which would allow audience members or performers to seek damages from activists and impose injunctions against future protests. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlilse reportedly agreed to back the amendment in the House of Lords. The move followed protests against Israeli state-sponsored musicians at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011 and at the Globe Theatre in 2012.[11]

Attacking charities

Among the charities UKLFI has targeted are War on Want, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Interpal.

Affiliations

People

Patrons

The Rt. Hon. Lord Carlile | The Rt. Hon. Lady Cosgrove | Baroness Deech DBE, QC | Professor Sir Elihu Lauterpacht | Sir Ivan Lawrence | Sir Gavin Lightman QC | The Lord Pannick | Professor Richard Susskind | The Rt. Hon. Lord Trimble[13]

Lawyers

Chairman Jonathan Turner | Julian Hunt

Staff

Caroline Kendall

Funding

UK LFI claims its members usually operate on a pro-bono basis but does solicit donations via its website and states that 'some matters may be funded by clients on a fee-paying basis or under conditional or contingent fee arrangements, and we may be able to raise funds from donors for some other projects which require major commitments'.[14]

Contact

Email: info@uklfi.com
Website: www.uklfi.com

Resources

Notes

  1. About, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014
  2. Activities, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014
  3. What is UK Lawyers for Israel's relationship to the Israeli government?, Mondoweiss, 12 March 2019, accessed 14 March 2019.
  4. An evening with Jonathan Turner of UK Lawyers for Israel at Belmont US, You&Us, accessed 10 January 2013
  5. Jessica Elgot, The Lawyers who stopped Gaza flotilla, 15 December 2011, accessed 10 January 2013
  6. UK Lawyers for Israel, Ministry of Foriegn Affairs, accessed 14 March 2019/
  7. What is UK Lawyers for Israel's relationship to the Israeli government?, Mondoweiss, 12 March 2019, accessed 14 March 2019.
  8. Legal Challenges and Opprtunities in Israeli Policy and Advocacy, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014
  9. Activities, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014
  10. British lawyers group's tour plans prompt angry reaction, Jewish News, 26 March 2014, accessed 1 April 2014.
  11. Marcus Dysch, New law could bring curtain down on anti-Israel protesters, Jewish Chronicle, 3 April 2014, accessed 8 April 2014
  12. What is UK Lawyers for Israel's relationship to the Israeli government?, Mondoweiss, 12 March 2019, accessed 14 March 2019.
  13. About, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014
  14. Get Involved, UK Lawyers for Israel, accessed 1 April 2014