Pro-Israel rally: organisers say venue pulled out because of ‘intimidation’ from boycotters

By Josh Jackman, January 19, 2016

The organisers of a pro-Israel rally claim they have been forced to postpone the event because the venue pulled out after “gross intimidation” from boycott activists.

North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI) said that despite the Sheridan Suite function rooms in Manchester “accepting the booking in full knowledge of the event purpose,” the venue had “fallen victim to an orchestrated campaign by specific pressure groups whose sole aim is to delegitimise the existence of the state of Israel.

“Sadly, by caving in to this external pressure, the Sheridan Suite has succumbed to gross intimidation and allowed itself to become a target of the antisemitic boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, all of which only serves to strengthen our resolve to do everything in our power to oppose their ongoing delegitimisation.”

Around 2,000 people had been expected to attend the “Say No To Terror: Stand With Israel” national rally, on January 31.

It had received support from the Chief Rabbi, Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, Zionist Federation and the Israeli embassy, as well as grassroots groups around Britain.

Board president Jonathan Arkush said: “I utterly condemn the decision of this venue to cave in to a few random voices calling for the event to be cancelled.

“They seem to have been browbeaten into this and have acted in a craven fashion.”

The Sheridan Suite in Manchester is a venue for Jewish weddings (Photo: Twitter/@SheridanSuite)

The Sheridan Suite in Manchester is a venue for Jewish weddings (Photo: Twitter/@SheridanSuite)

The event will now be rearranged for a date in March, with the organisers reporting that it will now “coincide with the arrival of Mark Regev, the new Israeli ambassador, to the UK".

NWFOI added that the event “will now be even bigger and better at a secure location and free from those wishing to detract from Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East".

Writing on Twitter, Sussex Friends of Israel said the decision was "disgraceful".

The venue advertises itself as "a perfect venue for memorable Jewish weddings".

The Sheridan Suite has been contacted for comment, but has not yet responded to the JC.

In an apparent response to reports of the cancellation, a tweet on the venue's account was posted quoting Mark Twain, reading: "Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."

Last updated: 8:58am, January 20 2016