Israel’s Arab diplomat tells StandWithUs guests why he backs the Jewish state


Pro-Israel grassroots group StandWithUs UK held its first annual reception on Thursday, with Arab-Israeli diplomat George Deek telling the 270 guests that Arab and Jews in Israel shared common goals and fears.

Mr Deek, who was guest of honour at the event at St Johns Wood Synagogue, was making his first official visit to the UK.

He explained why he champions the Jewish state.

"Six years ago I decided to do something that would change the course of my history. Becoming a diplomat was not a normal thing to do where I came from. And since then I’ve been asked some tough questions. Am I afraid to lose my identity? What do I want to achieve?

"At 14, I went to a Jewish school and as the only Arab in my class I became the voice of the Palestinians and I believe I was able to talk to my Jewish class mates from the Palestinian perspective.

"But just like my classmates were listening to me, I was also listening to them.

“It felt natural to speak up for Arabs but it felt natural to speak up for Jews.

"We share common fears and goals."

Guests heard from students at UK university campuses who said they faced “aggression, intimidation and sometimes violence” from anti-Israel protestors.

StandWithUs UK executive director Michael Dickson, said: “At the same age of students who are in the audience tonight, their Israeli peers are putting on uniforms.

“But our students here are also on the front line, on campus, in the community and online.

“We are empowering our young people to stand strong with Israel and fight the intimidating anti-Israel movements.

“And critically we are reaching out to non-Jews and asking them to stand with us particularly on campus.”

Actress Maureen Lipman was presented with a Beacon of Light award for her outspoken support for Israel.

Mrs Lipman who was unable to attend the event due to work commitments sent a video message to guests.

She said: “Even a beacon of light can’t be in two places at once. I’m in a play at about a man who hallucinates a six-foot white rabbit.

“And that is relevant, because the world has hallucinated a saber-toothed tiger in the form of Israel and this is not the case.

“I’m not a brave woman, I don’t like confrontation, but I do like a level playing field, I care about justice and the version of Israel as an apartheid country is misguided.”

Honours were given to Joy Wolfe, the founder of StandWithUs UK, for her commitment to supporting Israel, and to Scottish activist Nigel Goodrich, for galvanising support in small communities where anti-Israel voices were in the majority.

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