The UK has become the centre of a systematic assault on Israel’s right to exist that unites Middle East resistance networks with allies on the liberal-left in Europe, according to a new report by an influential Israeli think tank.
According to the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute, which examines the threat posed to Israel’s national security by Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas, the movement to “delegitimise” Israel aims to bring about the country’s implosion on the model of apartheid South Africa. The institute, led by Gidi Grinstein, suggests that London has become a “Mecca of Delegitimisation” for activists working to undermine Israel’s political model.
The report, a draft of which has been seen by the JC, is part of an attempt by supporters of Israel to build what they call a political firewall against the assault on the country’s legitimacy.
It calls on British Jews to establish a grassroots movement to take on Israel’s opponents and persuade liberal opinion that much of the activity of the “delegitimisers” is driven by UK-based Islamists and the hard-left.
This so-called Red-Green Alliance is seen as particularly influential in the UK capital through the work of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The authors conclude that the fightback needs to begin in London, which acts as the “hub of hubs” of the movement to undermine Israel.
It is understood that the Israeli government and Israeli diplomats in London are supportive of many of the findings of the report, which urges the construction of a loosely co-ordinated pro-Israel network to rival that of its enemies. This will require a new mindset from Israel itself in order to allow the UK diaspora to take the lead in any future campaign.
The origins of the Building a Political Firewall report can be traced to the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War. Hizbollah and other extremist organisations were able to win the propaganda war by representing themselves as resistance movements rather than terrorist organisations.
A series of events, including the Gaza war and the boarding of the Turkish flotilla, have further entrenched this position.
Since then, the report claims, the PR assault on Israel has been very successful at blurring the lines between criticism and delegitimisation. This has focused on identifying Israel with apartheid-era South Africa and has led to a boycott campaign which draws its inspiration directly from the struggle against apartheid. At the same time “lawfare” has been used to threaten Israeli politicians with arrest for alleged war-crimes.
The radical new approach proposed by the Reut researchers will be a challenge to the Israeli government and will cheer those such as UJIA chairman Mick Davis, who have called for a new relationship between Israel and the diaspora.
A key paragraph in the introduction calls on all parties in the pro-Israel movement to leave their comfort zones: “Israel will have to let the Jewish community lead the counter-attack in places, such as London, that require nuance and cultural sensitivity”.
At the same time it challenges the Jewish leadership to “allow for innovative thinking, new tools and aggressive experimentation that usually takes place outside of the established community”.
At the heart of the strategy is a plan to target left-liberal opinion in Britain. “Importantly, critics from the political left, because they represent liberal values, are also an invaluable voice in delegitimising Israel’s delegitimisation, notwithstanding their common criticism of the Jewish community’s traditional institutions and the policies of the state of Israel.”
For this to be successful, the report argues that only those who are working for the destruction of Israel should be targeted, not those who are critical of individual policies.
Other strategies involve naming and shaming key “delegitimisers”, building a network within liberal and progressive circles, focusing on Hamas’s presence in London and promoting Israel’s record in science, the arts and emergency humanitarian response.
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “Together with many other communal agencies we contributed heavily to the compilation of the Reut report.”