Guttentag and Wolfe will galvanise the grassroots

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 4, 2011

A major conference to galvanise Jewish activists to fight public demonisation of Israel is being planned for Manchester, probably in May.

Joint president of the Zionist Federation, Joy Wolfe, said there was "a growing awareness" across the UK's Jewish leadership of an urgent need for a major tactic change to match the web of far-left activists and groups like the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

She said: "I believe the leadership has grasped that and is now in the business of how to combat the serious demonisation we see happening. " She added: "This is a campaign to get the masses out and, therefore, should not need massive funding. It needs people to pick up a pen or phone, or people being prepared to turn out to a counter demonstration."

Mrs Wolfe attended a briefing last week of Jewish leaders in London where a similar strategising event is being planned for the capital. But she said Manchester's Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag had been instrumental in moving the plans forward after he had begun co-ordinating a northern conference in partnership with Israel's Reut Institute.

The Tel Aviv-based thinktank circulated a report in December spotlighting London as a "Mecca of Delegitimisation" for activists conducting a PR assault on Israel. It argued that Israel's detractors in the UK could only be matched if Jewish leaders accepted a loosely co-ordinated grassroots campaign.

Rabbi Guttentag praised BICOM and the Jewish Leadership Council for tireless work, but said the danger was "too great" for Israel and the Jewish community to leave it to a small number of individuals.

When the Jewish community faced those who denied the right for Jews to identify as a nation or have a homeland, he said, "It's up to us. If we've got the fire burning in our country and it's causing damage all across the world we have to put it out."

Last updated: 10:29am, February 4 2011