Campaigners protest event featuring far-right pro-settler Israeli NGO Regavim
- A coalition of campaigners are protesting an event hosted by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) featuring a spokesperson from the far-right pro-settler Israeli NGO Regavim
- Regavim has been heavily criticised by human rights campaigners, Jewish groups and other Israeli NGOs for its role in advocating for the demolition of Palestinian communities to make way for Jewish-only settlements
- UK Lawyers for Israel were initially due to host Regavim in September, but a strong backlash prompted the event to be cancelled and subsequently rescheduled for Sunday 1st December
A coalition of campaigning groups including Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the UK strand of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and EuroPal Forum is holding an emergency protest outside an event hosted by UK Lawyers for Israel featuring a spokesperson from the far-right pro-settler Israeli NGO Regavim.
Regavim is widely regarded as an extremist group which advocates for the violation of international law by promoting Israeli settlement of the whole of the West Bank. Regavim denies that there is any Israeli occupation and is active in petitioning the Israeli courts for the demolition of Palestinian properties. Its co-founder, MK Bezalel Smotrich, is now a minister in Netanyahu’s government and is notorious for racist and homophobic remarks, previously describing LGBT+ Jews as “beasts”.
The hosting organisation, UK Lawyers for Israel, is a registered charity which devotes most of its energy to lobbying public bodies in order to suppress activism for Palestinian rights. Despite citing “the promotion of racial harmony” as one of its charitable objectives, UKLFI refuses to accept the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law.
UKLFI’s patrons include Lord Carlile, who has been charged by the UK Government to review Prevent, its heavily criticised strategy for countering extremism. Campaigners have raised major concerns about Lord Carlile being in this role whilst being the patron of a charity that is hosting an extremist organisation.
UKLFI were initially due to host Regavim in September, but a strong backlash, including from a number of Jewish groups, prompted the event to be cancelled and subsequently rescheduled for Sunday 1st December.
Nasser Nawaja, a resident of the at-risk village of Susiyah said: “More than 450 people in the village of Susiyah, including children, women and elderly people, are facing imminent expulsion from their land and homes. We live under this constant threat because of Regavim’s legal work in the Israeli courts and the political pressure on the Israeli authorities.”
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “It is truly disgraceful that any organisation would host a spokesperson from a far-right racist organisation with a total disregard for Palestinian human rights. We call upon all public bodies and public figures to disassociate themselves from organisations like Regavim and UKLFI that are in our view – and based on their record of political positions and activities – clearly complicit in promoting illegality and hate speech.”
An ISM UK spokesperson said: “We’ve seen the psychological trauma and terror demolitions inflict on Palestinian villages. Because of Regavim’s appalling actions, these communities are given little chance to save their homes from destruction. How can an organisation dedicated to demolishing homes and destroying lives have charitable status? Regavim must be stripped of its charitable status because racism cannot and should not be rewarded.”
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Notes to editors
- UKLFI postpone Regavim event after backlash: https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/uk-lawyers-for-israel-postpone-regavim-speaker-amid-threat-of-protests-1.487973
- Bezalel Smotrich’s racist and homophobic record: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/12/bezalel-smotrich-israel-far-right-demagogue-drawing-fringe-beliefs-to-centre
- UKLFI’s role in suppressing pro-Palestine activism: https://mondoweiss.net/2019/03/lawyers-relationship-government/
- UKLFI Patron Lord Carlile comes under fire in his role reviewing counter-extremism programme: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/terrorism-extremism-uk-prevent-review-lord-carlile-legal-challenge-a9162301.html