Councillors get help to learn about Israel


A new grassroots group will aim to tackle anti-Israel sentiment in British politics.

North West Councillors Friends of Israel has been set up with an initial membership of 22 representatives from councils in Liverpool and Manchester - all of whom are elected Labour members.

Anthony Dennison, co-chair of the North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI) group which will act as the parent body to the new organisation, said there was a need to educate politicians about Israel, especially after a series of suspensions from Labour in the past two months.

Mr Dennison said: "There was the danger of a Palestinian flag being flown over Manchester Town Hall last year, which was defeated, but there is still a lot of ignorance in politics, particularly in Labour, about Israel."

He said that the councillors had expressed a desire for the group to grow following a launch event last month, and that his organisation was also looking "to arrange for these councillors to go over to Israel and see it for themselves".

Anti-Israel opinions were no barrier to entry, he added. "We are happy to welcome people who think Israel is a rogue state.

"Then we can show them the truth. We want to educate the councillors - and if it works in the north-west, why shouldn't it be done elsewhere?"

Another initiative backed by NWFOI is the Do One More Act For Israel in 2016 campaign, which was initially floated at last month's rally in Manchester.

It has now been extended across the country, with supporters asked to fill in pledge forms online.

Mr Dennison said he had taken inspiration for the idea from the Shabbat UK project, which asked community members to each raise their level of observance by one degree.

"It's the same principle," he explained. "Whatever your level is, do a bit more."

Suggested ways of getting involved include lobbying the media and politicians on behalf of Israel.

"We were looking for something to motivate people. We're a very small community, and if we're going to make a difference we need to be very active."

Mr Dennison had observed "a lot of apathy" in the community, citing London as "a prime example".

He claimed: "It's not well-organised down there. There's no basis for grassroots groups and no large group which seems to be taking the lead.

"It's crazy that a Manchester-based Prestwich organisation is the largest grassroots group in the country when we have a seventh of the Jewish population that London does.

"It speaks volumes."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive