£400k to boost profile of Israel with Bicom

Bicom plans to boost its profile and influence - with the help of a £400,000 cash injection.

New initiatives include setting up a virtual debating club, creating an Israel and Middle East peace process index, doubling delegations to Israel and establishing an annual policy conference.

Lorna Fitzsimons, CEO of Bicom, said: "Our detractors will use the political and trade union conferences in September to their advantage and we must uplift our activities to meet this need. During the recession we have become more efficient on less, but we cannot counter the anti-Israel discourse in Britain without serious investment."

At a board meeting on Monday, members agreed Bicom needed a 12.5 per cent boost this year and a 25 per cent increase next year, bringing expenditure to £2 million.

Ms Fitzsimons said she wanted the organisation to reach more people and said the seven annual delegations to Israel for journalists will be extended to other influential voices, including academics. A trip for six costs £15,000.

"We want to open it to people who aren't covered by other organisations like the various Friends of Israel, so that more can understand Israel and gain confidence to speak out," she said.

In October, Bicom will launch an Israel and Middle East index to chart progress made towards peace in the region. They will also hold an annual policy conference with experts discussing the "facts on the ground".

Bicom is now appealing to donors to provide the extra cash.

"We won't be able to meet the climate that will be with us in September without a step-change in activities and funding," Ms Fitzsimons said.

Donor Joshua Rowe, in Manchester, said: "The Israeli government can't find a way of telling Israel's story. They don't spend the time or thought to sell Israel's case. Bicom fills this vacuum. They are doing a great job. The greater their resources, the greater their impact. It's one of today's great priorities."

    Last updated: 12:39pm, July 8 2010