Campaigners from a British Jewish anti-occupation group are urging the patrons of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) to resign over a highly controversial event with a “far-right”, pro-settler Israeli group.
On Sunday, UKLFI hosted a speaker from Regavim, an Israeli organisation notorious for its work in both promoting illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and encouraging the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures.
The Regavim event had been originally scheduled to take place in September, but was pulled in the face of concerted protests from human rights campaigners. UKLFI, however, decided to rearrange the event, the location of which it attempted to keep secret.
On the day, however, Na’amod UK, a group of British Jews against Israel’s military occupation and abuse of Palestinian rights, protested the platform offered to Regavim outside the venue.
Now, Na’amod are urging the patrons of UKLFI to resign over the affair, with UKLFI officials seemingly unrepentant over the invitation extended to Regavim, and even on the record as expressing support for Regavim’s activities.
“UK Lawyers for Israel thinks it can welcome a far-right organisation into the Jewish community with no repercussions,” Na’amod declared on Twitter. “We need to prove them wrong.”
UK Lawyers for Israel thinks it can welcome a far-right organisation into the Jewish community with no repercussions.
We need to prove them wrong.
— Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation 🐘 (@NaamodUK) December 3, 2019
Inviting supporters to send a letter to UKLFI patrons, Na’amod slammed the invitation to Regavim, who it described as having “ties to numerous extremist individuals and groups in Israel, and is actively involved in efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in the region”.
“UK Lawyers for Israel has a number of Patrons including members of the House of Lords, senior judges, leading human rights lawyers and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” Na’amod said.
“It is vital that they disown this shameful act, and resign from their positions in order to send a clear message that hate is never welcome in the Jewish community.”
Na’amod stressed that “this is not an issue of free speech,” since “UK Lawyers for Israel has made clear it supports what Regavim is doing in Israel and the West Bank.”
UKLFI chief executive Jonathan Turner has defended Regavim for merely seeking “to ensure proper application of planning laws both in Israel within the Green Line and in Area C of the West Bank.”
UKLFI Director Caroline Turner, meanwhile, praised the Regavim official’s presentation as “an intelligent and interesting talk”, and “a fascinating insight into how a small NGO is seeking to preserve the land and natural resources of Israel”.
Responding to such remarks, Na’amod stated: “we need to send the strongest possible message that organisations like Regavim are not welcome in the British Jewish community.”
“Every email will help persuade our communal leaders to take a stand against the Israeli far-right and ensure they are never welcomed into the British Jewish community again.”