The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page -

THE de­bate over who is best-placed to de­fend Is­rael in Bri­tain was ex­em­pli­fied by wide­spread con­fu­sion over what the re­sponse should be to the Global March to Jerusalem protests in London last month.

As around 800 an­tiIs­rael demon­stra­tors protested out­side the Is­raeli Em­bassy — a num­ber dis­play­ing images of the Is­raeli flag in­ter­wo­ven with a swastika — only 20 counter-pro­test­ers at­tended, mainly sup­port­ers of the Bri­tish Is­rael Coali­tion.

BIC’S Sam We­strop said it had been the “worst re­sponse” from the Jewish com­mu­nity he had en­coun­tered, and at­tacked the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion for ap­par­ently reneg­ing on an agree­ment to or­gan­ise coun­ter­protests when­ever anti-is­rael de­mos take place.

On the eve of the GMJ protest, Is­raeli sources in London had also crit­i­cised the lack of prepa­ra­tion to combat what was ex­pected to be a ma­jor event in anti-is­rael

ac­tivists’ cal­en­dars.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials were said to be dis­mayed by the fail­ure to or­gan­ise a large coun­ter­demo, and sug­gested em­bassy staff had been left to deal with the protest alone.

But the JC un­der­stands that the Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry had in fact dis­cour­aged communal groups from counter-protest­ing, as they “did not want to make a big thing” of the GMJ.

That sen­ti­ment was re­port­edly echoed by se­nior em­bassy of­fi­cials in London, who told ac­tivists in the days lead­ing up to the protest not to do any­thing which would at­tract more at­ten­tion to the protests.

To add to the sense of con­fu­sion, a For­eign Min­istry spokesman this week de­nied any ad­vice on GMJ had been of­fered to groups out­side Is­rael.

ZF ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Alan Aziz said the lack of re­sponse to GMJ had been “an ex­cep­tion” and said coun­ter­protests would take place “when­ever ap­pro­pri­ate”.

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