UJIA chief defends sale of Manchester base

Manchester UJIA chairman Keith Black has defended its controversial decision to sell off its Mamlock House premises by pledging that money saved would go towards countering "terrifying" anti-Israel activity.

The impending move has left smaller charities which co-lease the dilapidated north Manchester building struggling to find alternative accommodation.

But Mr Black said this week that UJIA's hand was forced by a 10 per cent drop in income in a harsh economic climate.

A move would save £50,000 annually and streamlining would support long-term commitments, especially to youth groups and to combat anti-Israel campaigns.

"UJIA is taking a lead in change, which can be difficult for people. But we are committed to enhancing Zionism in Manchester. We are seeing an unprecedented barrage of anti-Israel activity. Not only are they better funded and more organised than we are. They are tapping into the politics of the populace, which is terrifying."

FZY and the Israel Information Centre are likely to join UJIA, which is in the process of moving to a multi-storey office complex in Altrincham.

JNF's Lorraine Palastrand says the remaining Mamlock House charities want to remain together in north Manchester but require 2,000 square feet of office space.

"We have to hope the buildings we have seen can work out price-wise," she said. "It's been very hard to co-ordinate."

UJIA says its own move is intended as short-term.

It intends to use funds from the Mamlock House sale for a community building, which could reunite all the charities.

    Last updated: 12:53pm, May 6 2010