Anti-Israel author is ‘victim of secret plot’

By Marcus Dysch, March 21, 2014

The Israeli embassy lobbied Amnesty International to stop an anti-Israel activist holding an event at its headquarters, it has been revealed.

The new edition of Ben White’s book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide will be launched at Amnesty’s offices in Shoreditch, London, on Friday.

Mr White this week accused the embassy of attempting secretly to convince the charity to cancel the event.

Writing online, the activist said the embassy’s press attaché, Yiftah Curiel, had also contacted former Guardian journalist David Hearst, who is due to chair the session.

Mr Hearst apparently claimed that Mr Curiel withdrew an invitation to him to attend a reception at the ambassador’s residence after his refusal to pull out of the book launch.

The embassy declined to comment.

Amnesty confirmed that it had received a small number of complaints about the event and had been contacted by an embassy representative.

Last month, the charity altered its online listing to make clear that the publishing company, Pluto Press, and not Amnesty itself was hosting the event.

Mr White said it was “remarkable to see a country’s diplomatic representatives haranguing a respected journalist”.

Mr White has repeatedly been criticised after he wrote in 2002: “I do not consider myself an antisemite, yet I can also understand why some are”.

He also encouraged Twitter followers to protest against an Israeli theatre company’s performance in the UK in 2012 by posting a picture of Jewish author Howard Jacobson.

He said the Booker Prize winner’s face was “another reason to support the boycott”.

Representatives of one group of Israel advocates said they had booked free tickets for the launch but had no intention of attending.

They said they hoped to ensure that the event at the 200-capacity venue took place in front of as small an audience as possible.

Last updated: 10:27am, March 21 2014