Manch­ester to pitch Big Tent for Israel

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

A MA­JOR pro-Israel con­fer­ence will go ahead in Manch­ester later this year de­spite dis­agree­ments over its name, for­mat and the range of speak­ers.

It had been thought the Novem­ber 27 event would be pro­moted un­der the We Be­lieve ban­ner first used by Bi­com at its May con­fer­ence, Bri­tain’s largest ever Israel ad­vo­cacy event, in Lon­don.

But, fol­low­ing dis­agree­ments be­tween or­gan­is­ers in the north west and Bi­com, the Manch­ester event will now be en­ti­tled The Big Tent for Israel.

Bi­com and We Be­lieve staff will con­tinue to work with the Manch­ester ad­vo­cates to put to­gether the pro­gramme of speak­ers and ses­sions, but are likely to have a lower pro­file than first ex­pected.

Rabbi Jonathan Gut­tentag of White­field He­brew Con­gre­ga­tion in north Manch­ester is lead­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion of the con­fer­ence.

He said he wanted to act af­ter read­ing about a Reut In­sti­tute re­port in the JC last year which branded Lon­don the “hub of hubs” of the move­ment to un­der­mine Israel.

Rabbi Gut­tentag said: “It was as­sumed [af­ter May] that Bi­com’s Lon­don con­fer­ence would be repli­cated in Manch­ester. It was not the deal we had made. The last few weeks have been a bit of an Alice in Won­der­land sit­u­a­tion.

“There have been some dif­fer­ent tan­gents and peo­ple talk­ing at cross-pur­poses. We are also ex­pe­ri­enced up here. We have our own way of ap­proach­ing things. There is no need to have just one brand copied ev­ery­where.

“To mo­bilise and unite the com­mu­nity you can­not pre­sume that we will have a top-down, ‘you will do x, y and z’ sit­u­a­tion.

“To sim­ply roll out a fran­chise was one op­tion put in front of us – and would have been eas­ier. But we felt we had some­thing ex­tra to add.”

Luke Ake­hurst, the newly-ap­pointed di­rec­tor of the We Be­lieve net­work, said no fi­nal de­ci­sions had been made about the Manch­ester con­fer­ence.

He said: “It’s still very early days in terms of plan­ning. We are try­ing to sort out an ap­pro­pri­ately broad range of speak­ers and we are try­ing to make sure it works and goes ahead.”

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Artist Jo­han An­der­s­son with his paint­ing of the late singer Amy Wine­house in the Lock Tav­ern, one of her favourite bars, in north Lon­don.

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