Thursday, December 17, 2009


Embassy of Israel
Media Affairs

Yesterday afternoon (15/12/2009), the Israeli Ambassador HE Ron Prosor met with the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, to voice concern at the direction of relations between the two countries, in light of the attempted issuing of an arrest warrant to Tzipi Livni.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Prosor said:
“The current situation is absurd and unacceptable in equal measure.

Israelis cannot continually be held hostage by fringe groups of anti-Israel extremists, preventing politicians, businessmen and officers from visiting the United Kingdom.

Both our countries are on the frontline fighting terrorism, and this fight is too important to allow it to be hijacked by anybody.

I emphasised to the Foreign Secretary that following similarly troubling events in recent years, this should now act as a wake-up call. The British Government must take a firm stand to prevent British courts becoming a playground for anti-Israel extremists.

The friendship between Israel and the UK is of crucial strategic importance to both our democracies, and Israel welcomes Britain playing a key role within the Middle East peace process. Yet such a role will be impossible if senior Israeli figures cannot enter the UK without fear of arrest.”


For further information, please contact Eliot Pollak on 020 7957 9540

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The ZF was appalled to see the DEFRA guidelines (published on 10 December) on labelling of goods produced in the West Bank. About eight months ago the ZF led a delegation to the British Ambassador in Israel. This included representatives of the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, the Histradrut and COHAV (an international Israel advocacy organisation). At that meeting the Ambassador was asked which consumers had requested the labelling transparency which the government claims as a reason for issuing the guidelines.

The answer was Oxfam and War on Want– two of the most viciously anti-Israel NGOs. The government should listen to those 30,000 Palestinians dependent on settlements for their income. Local Palestinians have repeatedly said that they do not want a boycott and that a boycott would increase unemployment and hinder economic development in the Palestinian territories. The economy of the West Bank is growing very rapidly and this guidance will be bad for growth and therefore bad for peace.

The Zionist Federation asks whether these mythical British consumers are more concerned about products from the West Bank than products from other disputed areas, such as Tibet, Kashmir, northern Cyprus, Chechnya, Kosovo, parts of Bosnia or even places like Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland.

As the British Jewish leadership lights the Menorah in Downing Street this week, they should reflect on the Maccabees and what they stood for and then compare that to their own roles. The ZF does not believe it is a coincidence that a few days ago the Treasurer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the constitution of which states categorically that the Board is required to ‘advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing’, publicly expressed regret that the settlement freeze announced by PM Netanyahu did not include Jerusalem. One can surmise that the British government, which has been reflecting on the labelling issue for over a year, would take this as a sign that the Board’s leadership is lukewarm in its support of Israel.

The British Jewish Community has to face the fact that this Government is the most anti-Israel Government in many years and (together with the Swedish government) is the most anti-Israel Government in the EU. This is demonstrated by its recent actions over the Goldstone Report, the UNHRC meeting in Geneva, its support for the original Swedish Resolution on East Jerusalem and now by its stand on labelling.

Andrew Balcombe
Chairman ZF
11December 2009


An IDF review of the 36 incidents that Richard Goldstone called the 'worst' of Operation Cast Lead has concluded that 30 of those incidents are 'baseless.'
The other six were found to relate to genuine instances, where operational errors and mistakes were involved.

The IDF is currently finalizing a report in response to the allegations leveled by the Goldstone mission on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It is expected to be completed and submitted to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi for review in the coming weeks. The army has yet to decide what it will do with the report and whether it will be released to the public.

The IDF has, however, already launched a diplomatic campaign to present some of the results of its probe.

On Wednesday, Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit met in New York with representatives of 10 different countries, as well as with officials from the UN secretariat and the Obama administration, to present some of Israel's findings.

Read the whole thing

If it can possibly be done, the IDF ought to release the report to the public. While it will not reduce the furor over Goldstone in countries that will never give us a fair shake, it might help on the margins in some of the European countries, in Latin America and in some Western countries other than the US (which is already in our court on this).


Read article here

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Ha’aretz yesterday reported that Sir John Sawers, the British Ambassador to the UN, supports the findings of the Goldstone Commission. The Independent today quotes him as saying “This investigation was led by a serious figure, Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew with long experience in justice. It’s not as if he was in any way biased.”

The Goldstone Mission was created by a biased mandate which went a long way to assuming the major conclusion of the Report – that Israel was guilty of War Crimes. Its composition was not even-handed - for example Professor Christine Chinkin (LSE) signed an open letter (11 January 2009) in The Sunday Times in which she wrote " Israel 's actions demonstrate aggression, not self-defence". No more than two of the 575 pages are devoted to the fact that 12,000 missiles and Quassam rockets were fired at Israelis for eight years prior to the action in Gaza . There is no mention of Israel ’s right to self-defence.

The ZF calls on the UK Government:

(i) to reject the Goldstone Report when it is discussed in the UN Human Rights Council in March (or sooner in the Security Council) and to lobby other relevant members of the UN to do likewise;

(ii) to recognise that a referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court (a recommendation of the Report) would be widely seen as official endorsement of Hamas terrorism and could set back the fight against terrorism elsewhere – including in the UK .

The ZF deplores the reported comments of Sawers about Goldstone's religion. There are numerous anti-Zionist Jews and Goldstone's religion is irrelevant.

The ZF notes that in only five days, nearly 1,750 have signed a petition to the Prime Minister calling on the UK to reject the Goldstone Report.

The ZF calls on the UK government to clarify Sawers' comments and to confirm that acceptance of the Goldstone Report - together with its recommendation that Israel should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court - is not its policy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

British Jews Stand Squarely with Israel

The Zionist Federation was bemused to read the ‘open letter’ to Gordon Brown in today’s Times informing the Prime Minister that British Jews do not speak with ‘one voice’ about Israel. It would be astonishing if the Prime Minister believed that 270,000 Jews spoke with ‘one voice’ about anything. He will appreciate that most of the 1,000 or so signatories have little connection with Jewish organisations and only self-identify for the sole purpose of public vilification of Israel.

It is breathtaking to read that Richard Goldstone is “an internationally acclaimed jurist who has made a substantial contribution worldwide to the development and maintenance of international humanitarian law” and that his co-authors are “distinguished”. As reported in the Huffington Post, Goldstone cut his judicial teeth on the bench of South Africa's Supreme Court under the apartheid regime. During this period between 1980 and 1989 -- some of apartheid South Africa's most violent years -- Goldstone ruled on cases which pitted human rights against South African statutory law, legal precedence, and judicial convention. In 1986, Goldstone sentenced a 13 year old black boy to prison for the “crime” of possessing a tape recording of Oliver Tambo’s voice. Goldstone was severely criticised by South African human rights organisations. Christine Chinkin – Goldstone’s co-author – was clearly far from impartial. She signed an open letter (11 January 2009) in The Sunday Times in which she wrote "Israel's actions demonstrate aggression, not self-defence".

The signatories - who want Gordon Brown to support the Goldstone Report in the UN - clearly have not done their due diligence - let alone read the Report. The Goldstone Mission was created by a biased mandate; its composition was not even-handed; the 12,000 missiles and Quassam rockets fired at Israelis for eight years prior to the action in Gaza get hardly a mention; and there is no mention of Israel’s right to self-defence.

More than 3,600 people have signed a petition to Gordon Brown to reject Goldstone. The signatories who support Goldstone represent a tiny idiosyncratic publicity-seeking fringe which takes its cue from Iran, Libya and Zimbabwe (who voted for the Report in the UN).

The vast majority of British Jews accept that Israel’s action was both necessary and proportionate and salute the skill of those who carried it out. As Colonel Richard Kemp - former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan said: “During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”.

Indeed the ZF is delighted to announce that Colonel Kemp has accepted our invitation to speak directly to the large community of Israel supporters in the UK, at the ZF's Annual Dinner in February.