Police escort anti-occupation activists away from Birthright tour group at Luton Airport

Seven activists said they received a 'positive response' after approaching the group, who were preparing to fly to Israel


Members of a new anti-occupation group were escorted away from Luton Airport by police after trying to speak to Jewish youngsters who were about to fly to Israel for a Birthright trip.

Seven activists from the left-leaning Na’amod said they received a “positive response” as they discussed with the participants how “Palestinians are denied basic human rights every day through the occupation”.

But they claimed that officials from UJIA – which runs the Birthright trip – told them to stop talking to the youngsters, and “stood at our shoulders and interjected” in the conversations.

A spokesman said: “The Birthright leadership did not directly forbid us from talking to participants, but their actions fell just short of this.

“They put down lots of conditions for them to allow us to talk to the participants, such as not while they were going towards the meeting point, waiting in a group or before they had checked in.

"We were told at one point that we would be allowed to talk to them in an hour and a half, which would have been when they were going through security.”

UJIA denied this, saying it “did not prevent Na’amod from engaging with participants”. It also denied that its officials called the police officers, as had been claimed earlier by Na’amod.

A Jewish member of staff at Luton Airport, who wished to remain anonymous, told the JC that officials are “super sensitive about security, especially around the El-Al check-in desk.

“The basis of why they were asked to leave is that, technically, the airport is private property. You can be asked to leave if you are not a member of staff, or if you’re not flying. Some of the practices in other airports can be quite draconian.

“Especially around the El-Al desks there are police officers and dogs. What they are doing is a peaceful thing but it might be the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Na’amod later published a video of themselves at the airport, describing why they had gone there.

Na’amod was established earlier this month in response to sustained online harassment of group of young Jews who participated in the “Kaddish for Gaza” event, which continues to cause controversy and fuel anger among British Jews.

The group of about 50 said the mourning prayer for 62 Palestinians killed in violent clashes on the Gaza border, sparking outrage in sections of the community. Earlier a Hamas spokesman claimed 50 of the dead were members of the group.

Last month, five American Jews walked off a Birthright tour, calling it “one sided” and visited the Palestinian Occupied Territories instead.

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