Big Tent for Israel

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The Big Tent For Israel was a one day conference held in Manchester, UK, in November 2011, organized in response to a report by the Reut Institute which identified the UK, especially London, as a hub for activities which 'delegitimize' Israel.

The event was attended by between 500-1000 people.[1] A sister event called the Mini Big Tent For Israel was held in London on November 9 2011.[2]

Countering Delegitimization

The event explicitly sought to counter the perceived delegitimization phenomenon. Organizer Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag wrote in the programme:

“We need to fight a war to defend Israel against delegitimisation. We have to raise an army and we have to join that army.”[3]

In a blogpost Eran Shayshon described the event as part of "the emergence of the pro-Israel network" and also mentioned a May 2011 conference We Believe In Israel organised by BICOM in this context.[4] An article in the Jewish Chronicle states BICOM pulled out of any involvement in the The Big Tent for Israel because of disagreements over whether it would carry BICOM's We Believe In Israel branding and the range of speakers invited.[5] However, BICOM's then Chief Executive Lorna Fitzsimons did eventually appear on the list of speakers in the event program.

Internal Disputes

The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews were reportedly influential in forcing the organizers to broaden the range of invited speakers.[6] Vivian Wineman of the Jewish Leadership Council one of the board who selected speakers to invite, is reported to have denied that pro-settler voices were excluded and that two representatives of Likud-Herut UK were invited to speak.[7]

Lack of transparency

A pro-Palestinian journalist Asa Winstanley, of Electronic Intifada, has claimed that he was not permitted to attend the conference, after openly identifying himself as a writer for a critical media outlet. He also states that the venue for the conference was not advertised publicly, arguing that this was likely 'an attempt to avoid BDS [boycott, divestent & sanctions] activists protesting against the event, or getting an view from the inside'. On apparently being barred from the conference, he wrote: 'is the pro-Israel case so weak it cannot stand up to critics?'[8]


Speakers included Eran Shayson one of the authors of the Reut Institute's report 'The Assault on Israel's Legitimacy: London as a Case Study'[9] and, amongst others:



  1. Simon Rocker, Big Tent For Israel Gets UK Ambassador Taub, Jewish Chronicle, accessed June 2 2012
  2. A Tentful of Hasbara, London BDS, accessed June 2 2012
  3. BTFI Programme, Scribd, accessed Jun 2 2012
  4. Towards the Big Tent For Israel, Reut Blog, accessed June 2 2012
  5. Jessica Eglot, Board Warns It May Not Back Big Tent, Jewish Chronicle, accessed June 2 2012
  6. Simon Rocker, Rabbi Backs Down Over Big Tent, Jewish Chronicle, June 2 2012
  7. Simon Rocker, Big Tent 'Ban' Not A Ban, But A Balance, Jewish Chronicle, accessed June 2 2012
  8. Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada barred from reporting inside UK “delegitimization” conference, Electronic Intifada, accessed 23 August 2012
  9. The Assault on Israel's Legitimacy: London as a Case Study, Reut Institute, accessed 29 May 2012.
  10. BTFI Programme, Scribd, accessed Jun 2 2012