IsrAction Day organisers hit back at criticism


Pro-Israel activists have hit back against accusations they are “manipulating the homeless” by encouraging the community to donate Israeli products to shelters.

In a letter to the JC this week, reader Marilyn Leeman said the IsrAction Day campaign “abused poverty and manipulated charity for political ends”.

Another reader Sandra Webber, wrote: “The BDS campaign is despicable but we should not be using the poor and hungry of the UK as weapons to score points against it.”

But organiser Raphi Bloom, co-chair of grassroots group North West Friends of Israel (NWFoI), said the criticisms were “ill-informed and churlish”.

He said: “They haven’t bothered to check the facts. Suggesting we are asking people to donate useless products like humus and falafel goes to show how narrow their view of Israeli products is.
“We obviously checked with the charities what food they needed and we’ve been asking people to buy non-perishable Israeli products, of which there are many to choose from.”

He added: “We are not using the homeless and it is people who sit back and do nothing but criticise who are trying some cheap political point scoring based on their left wing views.”

Fiona Sharpe, of Sussex Friends of Israel, which launched the initiative with NWFoI, said: “We are not using the homeless to promote Israel.

“The two work hand in hand and we thought about it very carefully. There is a crisis with people needing food banks and homeless shelters at this time of year and we have a tradition of holding events around food.

“It is others who have sought to politicise it and score points by being cynical.”

IsrAction Day takes place on Sunday, with supporters around the country expected to buy Israeli products to give to the homeless. Organisers said than 1,000 people have already made donations.

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