British-Israel Public Affairs Committee
The British-Israel Public Affairs Committee(BIPAC), also known as the British-Israel Public Affairs Centre or the Britain/Israeli Public Affairs Committee, was a Zionist lobby group named after the leading US Israel lobby group AIPAC. It was active from at least 1983 but closed down in late 1999 due to lack of funds.
Origins and locations
During the Lebanon war of 1982 Zelda Harris was asked to escort foreign journalists as part of Israel's propaganda effort. This led to the opening of the BIPAC (Britain Israel Public Affairs Center) in 1983. Harris continued to serve as the director of BIPAC in Israel from 1983-1992 and took foreign journalists and other opinion formers to Israel and the Occupied Territories. BIPAC first appears in the British press in 1985 when Barry Shenker wrote a letter to The Guardian on the Israel-Lebanon War giving his address as Britain/Israel Public Affairs, Committee, Baker Street, London W1. The organisation was initially based at 126/134 Baker Street in London but later moved to 21-22 Great Sutton Street in the City and opened branches in Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow.
On news of BIPAC's closure the The Jerusalem Post wrote:
The organization is credited with having had a significant impact on an often-hostile media and on the political echelon over the past two decades. It has also worked closely with the Arabic-language media in London. In addition to its own lobbying activities, which included a fortnightly newsletter on Israel and Middle East affairs [called the BIPAC Briefing.], BIPAC has taken scores of senior British journalists to Israel and brought Israeli analysts to London for media, political, diplomatic, and security briefings. Several senior Arab journalists have also traveled to Israel under BIPAC's auspices for meetings and briefings with top government, military, and academic figures. It has worked intensively with the London-based political, military, and security think-tanks, creating and supporting institutional links between British and Israeli universities on Middle East affairs. Last October, BIPAC convened a major conference in London, which was attended by the top strategic advisers to the governments of Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as specialists from the US State.
Prizes for writing on Israel
In 1986 BIPAC and the Zionist Federation managed a competition for journalists writing on Israel. They awarded Lynne Reid Banks £500 provided by the Doron Foundation of Israel and the World Zionist Organisation.
Challenging Palestinian delegation
In 1985 the Times reported:
- Although no one is saying so officially, the visit by a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, which will include two senior representatives from the Palestine Liberation Organization is to take place on Monday. For security reasons, British officials are under strict instructions to say nothing about the visit until hours before the four-man delegation is due to arrive. The two PLO representatives - Mr Muhammad Milhem and Bishop Elias Khoury - have both been threatened with death by Palestinian extremists for accepting the invitation to visit Britain which Mrs Margaret Thatcher extended during a trip to the Middle East last month.
- The Americans are understood to be furious that the visit is to go ahead, although they have maintained a steely silence in public. The Israelis have not felt similarly constrained. Mr Yitzhak Shamir, the Israeli Foreign Minister, said during a stop-over in London yesterday, that Britain's decision to allow the visit to go ahead would 'strengthen international terrorism'.
- Mr Milhem's and Bishop Khoury's reputations as moderates have been challenged by the British-Israel Public Affairs Committee which says that Mr Milhem, a close colleague of Mr Yassir Arafat, the PLO leader, is on record as denying the right of Israel to exist and as being a supporter of, if not a participant in, violent means to political ends. Bishop Khoury was arrested by Israel in 1969 and later deported from the West Bank for allegedly being involved in supplying explosives to terrorists who blew up a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing two shoppers and injuring eight.
Troubles in Zion
Below is an extract from The Guardian explaining the circumstances of Moonman’s departure from BIPAC:
An unusual advert has just appeared in the Jewish Chronicle, asking anyone who knows about a campaign of malice against the former Labour MP Eric Moonman to send the information to a box number. It has been placed, of course, by Moonman himself, who is senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and chairman of the Islington Area Health Authority in London. Until recently he was also a board member of the British-Israel Public Affairs Committee (BIPAC), but he resigned at the last meeting following what might be called the Alexander Keddie Affair. Keddie doesn't actually exist, although he was once described as a recluse in Essex who didn't like taking phone calls; the name was simply used over a period of about four years to steer payments to a variety of people, including Moonman, who worked on a BIPAC publication called EEC Monitor. An accountant's report into the affair was prompted by Monty Sumary, a prominent Jewish businessman and fundraiser, and it concluded that Moonman had left people confused about the Keddie arrangement. Moonman denies this, and is now intent on unmasking his putative tormentors. 'I do think there is a campaign against me,' he said this week. 'There have been anonymous letters and phone calls as well.'”
- Zelda Harris, founder and then Israel Director (1983-92) | Helen Davis Director from late 1991-1999 | Eric Moonman | Jane Moonman | Burt Keimach | Mark Berg | Julian Sinclair | Barry Shenker, Committee member circa 1985. | Daniel Ben-Moshe Director (1992) of the Jerusalem office
- Gloria Deutsch, 'Zelda Harris 76 From London to Haifa 1949', The Jerusalem Post, 6 April 2007
- Zelda Harris, 'Letter: Blame Game', The Jerusalem Post, 9 December 2007
- Manchester Guardian Weekly, 5 May 1985
- Peter Kingston, 'Resources: Palestinians: Israel's War and Peace', The Guardian, 6 September 1993
- Jay Bushinsky, 'Fatchett meets PM today, Arafat tomorrow', The Jerusalem Post, 14 January 1998
- Douglas Davis; Danna Harman Adds, 'Britain's BIPAC Israel lobby goes bust', The Jerusalem Post, 6 December 1999
- 'UK News in Brief: Prize for article in Guardian / Lynne Reid Banks', The Guardian, 18 June 1986
- The Times (London) October 12 1985, Saturday PLO leaders due on Monday: American fury at London visit BYLINE: NICHOLAS ASHFORD, Diplomatic Correspondent SECTION: Issue 62267.
- Stephen Cook, ‘People Diary’, The Guardian, 9 October 1987
- Virginia Myers, ‘London Israel Jamboree’, The Jerusalem Report, 20 December 1990
- Cockfosters Learning Centre Course A3 - Contemporary Israel - Slices of Life: The Israeli Embassy and Guest Lecturers, accessed 11 June 2012
- Barry Shenker, Britain/Israel Public Affairs, Committee, Baker Street, London W1. 'Impasse on way to peace' Manchester Guardian Weekly May 5, 1985. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR; Pg. 2
- ICEPA ICEPA Staff: Associate Professor Danny Ben-Moshe – Director, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 9 September 2006 on 14 June 2012.