Friends groups will work to resist boycott efforts


The founder of a new grassroots group has claimed it will combat Scotland's "vicious" anti-Israel movement.

Nigel Goodrich oversaw the launch of Edinburgh Friends of Israel on Sunday, with around 200 people - the majority not Jewish - attending its inaugural conference.

Mr Goodrich said: "The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Israel boycott movement in Scotland are vicious. But our case is noble and just - their case is not.

"People want to write to their MP to advocate Israel, but they do not know how. They want to use social media too, but they do not know how.

"We are going to help them - that is what this group is about. It is about battling the leftie, liberal anti-Israel bias."

We are going to help battle the leftie, liberal, anti-Israel bias

Mr Goodrich said he launched the group to bring small pro-Israel Jewish, secular and "church group" voices together.

He said: "Until now, there was no co-ordinated effort or group for people who support Israel in Scotland - I looked. There were, at best, small groups set up in churches, and at worst, lone voices."

Mr Goodrich, who is a Christian, has also founded Cumbria and Glasgow Friends of Israel, which launch next month. "When there is time, I will also set up Aberdeen Friends of Israel," he added.

He estimated that each group costs at least £1,000 to set up with leaflets and venue hire, and is independently funded by members.

Speakers at the Edinburgh event included Dan Golan, cultural affairs attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London, Board of Deputies consultant Steven Jaffe and Luke Akehurst, director of We Believe in Israel.

Mr Akehurst said: "The devolved government in Scotland, the general more anti-Israel political environment there and the particular virulence of the Scottish PSC's campaigning mean that developing a local grassroots network there is essential.

"Mr Goodrich is to be commended for the amazing efforts he is making to build pro-Israel activity across Scotland."

There are around 6,000 Jews in Scotland, mostly concentrated in the Glasgow area. The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities acts as the representative body.

During last summer's Gaza conflict, pro-Palestinian protesters forced the closure of a stall owned by the Israeli Kedem company in a Glasgow shopping mall.

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow councils raised the Palestinian flag over their city chambers.

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