What it means for the community

By Jeremy Newmark, October 14, 2010

This decision represents a significant setback to those working to import the Israel/Palestine conflict into our judicial systems by engaging in what has been aptly described as "lawfare".

This was always about more than the grotesque comparison between Israeli actions and Nazi atrocities. This was the thin end of the wedge. It opened the possibility of UK foreign policy being made in our courtrooms, circumventing the democratic process.

This is not just a matter of Israel advocacy. Lawfare also threatens to impact upon our lives as British Jews. Other recent cases have used legal justifications which argued that vandalism and disruption in the UK can be legalised by political anger at events in the Middle East. Ironically, they claim that international law gives them the right to commit these crimes.

This trend surfaced in the assault on BICOM's office during Operation Cast Lead, the attacks upon Carmel Agrexco warehouses, and vandalism of Starbucks branches during anti-Israel protests. Less dramatically, but arguably more significantly, attempts to challenge the legal status of Jewish schools, based upon their teaching of Zionism, show how prevalent lawfare is starting to become.

The Office of Judicial Review may appear only to have slapped the judge on the wrist. In fact it has established an important precedent - that political attitudes to Israel will never be an acceptable defence for criminal activity. This is a serious setback for those who seek to institutionalise the delegitimisation of Israel in the UK.

Jeremy Newmark is chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and a member of the board of the Fair Play Campaign.

Last updated: 2:26pm, November 8 2010