Knesset panel discusses UK as 'anti-Israel hub'
Israel's Prime Minister should appoint a special adviser on how Jerusalem's policies affect world Jewry, a Knesset sub-committee heard this week.
The sub-committee on diaspora affairs, chaired by Atzmaut MK Dr Einat Wilf, was hearing evidence from British Jewish leaders on the state of Israel advocacy in the UK.
Among those representing British Jewry were Jewish Leadership Council chair Mick Davis, who suggested appointing the adviser, its CEO Jeremy Newmark, UJIA's Doug Krikler and Bicom director Dermot Kehoe.
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Originally, the meeting had been entitled: "UK – World Leader in Anti-Israel Rhetoric".
However, after concerns from the British attendees that this title sensationalised the situation, Wilf agreed to tone it down to a debate on "Zionism in Britain".
Newmark told the Jewish News: "Mick Davis reaffirmed our commitment to fighting delegitimisation. He made it clear that some of the delegitimisation is home-grown and some is imported into Britain from other hubs. He said that every hub had to have people to counter the delegitimisation. Dr Wilf said she would recommend to the PMO that it appoint a special senior adviser to assess the impact of Israeli policies on world Jewry."
This echoed comments Davis made last year, when he said: "I think the government of Israel… has to recognise that their actions directly impact me as a Jew living in London, the UK… and the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel."
Wilf told the Jewish News: "We heard some very interesting views. I particularly like the idea that anything we learn about fighting delegitimisation in Britain can be transferred to other hubs of anti-Israel activity. We have to make sure our voice is heard in Britain and elsewhere.
"Britain is a huge media and political hub and a lot that goes on there later takes place elsewhere. If we do well in Britain, we will do well in other countries, too. My impression is that British Jewry is a vital and dynamic community and that anti-Israel rhetoric is a serious problem. But we don't have to blow it out of proportion."
She added that at a later date, British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould would make his own presentation to the sub-committee, where he would display that, in fact, Israel's standing in the UK had never been better.
Kehoe, who presented several poll findings about Israel's standing in the UK, told the Jewish News: "It was extremely important for Bicom to take the opportunity to bring its expertise on the Britain-Israel relationship, and on British public opinion towards Israel, to a Knesset forum. There are challenges to Israel's standing in the UK which we take seriously. We are robustly responding at both elite and grassroots levels."
Kehoe made it clear that "there is an issue and it is very worrying. But put into context, there's another story".
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