British-Israel Coalition condemns racism

This is a press release from the British Israel Coalition

Bigots “not welcome” at our demonstrations, say organisers.

LONDON, 23 May 2012

Yesterday evening the British-Israel Coalition helped organise a last-minute rally to counter an anti-Israel group picketing the JNF [Jewish National Fund]  event.

The anti-Israel demonstrators, including members and supporters of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Stop the JNF, are opposed to Israel’s existence as an independent country.

They have made a point of picketing and harassing all Israelis, regardless of whether they represent the state or not. It makes no difference to them whether Israelis are liberal, conservative or apolitical, or are merely private citizens, academics, actors or athletes.

Our coalition supports Israel in its pursuit of a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, with two secure and independent states as an eventual goal. We stand against terrorism and violence.

We will not stand with racists and bigots. We turn them away. The BIC opposes the EDL, the JDL and any other extremist organisation.

Word of the counter demonstration travelled fast and within a few hours hundreds of people had decided to join in.

Unfortunately, among the many hundreds of decent and sincere supporters who turned up were two particular individuals who are known extremists bent on causing trouble. We identified them quickly, and turned them away.

It has been reported that a demonstrator, who was possibly one of those we expelled, is alleged to have made a racist comment. If this allegation is correct, we condemn this unreservedly. We oppose all racism and bigotry, whether from the EDL or the PSC.

“As a coalition of supporters of Israel, we welcome and embrace people from all races and religions. We are pleased to include people from many different backgrounds, so would not wish to be associated with any form of racism,” said Sam Westrop, an organiser of last night’s BIC demonstration.

“We do work hard to ensure the exclusion of those who might attend our rallies with the any bad intentions. While it is obviously difficult to spot a potential troublemaker, we will continue to make strongest efforts to exclude any such demonstrators. We ask that those who do not share our message of tolerance and peace to please stay away,” added Kasim Hafeez, co-Director of the British Israel Coalition.

The British Israel Coalition is proud to have stood up for Israel yesterday, and are proud to make clear our commitment to anti-extremism, liberal values, and security and justice for Israel.