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US and Israel look for UK donations

    Jeremy Ben-Ami
    Jeremy Ben-Ami

    The head of the controversial Israel lobby group J Street will attempt to raise funds for the organisation during a visit to London later this month, the JC has learned.

    Jeremy Ben-Ami, its founding president, who will be speaking about his new book at Jewish Book Week, will also hold a number of meetings to enlist support for a fighting fund for candidates in the American elections this year.

    But a senior representative of the organisation stressed that he would be canvassing only American expats in Britain, and the campaign would not clash with the work of the new British Israel advocacy group Yachad.

    Steven Krubiner, its chief of staff, said; "We are not bringing J Street to the UK."

    Only American citizens could contribute to campaign funds for an American election, he explained. "That's something a British group could not do." He added that J Street had a "great relationship" with Yachad, "which we see as a similar type of organisation which is really taking off in the UK. We're trying to help each other grow."

    Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, pointed out that her organisation was sponsoring Mr Ben-Ami's Book Week appearance. "We look forward to ongoing cooperation with J Street, and welcoming Jeremy to the UK," she said.

    But there was less of a welcome from Zionist Federation chairman Harvey Rose. While saying it was "not for us to comment on how J Street wish to raise funds for the US presidential elections from American ex-pats", he added: "We have always viewed J Street, who claim to be pro-Israel, with considerable  caution and scepticism."

    Meanwhile, it emerged this week that another international organisation has made fundraising visits to the UK.

    Netaly Ophir-Flint, vice-president of the Reut Institute, the Tel Aviv-based think-tank which last year published an influential report on the delegitimisation of Israel, confirmed that it has looked for financial support from British Jewry over the past couple of years.

    "We have identified Jewish communities where we think we can bring value on a number of different levels and London is one of them," she said.

    But she declined to reveal the size of donations from the UK.

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