UK lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a charity that cites amongst its charitable objectives “the promotion of racial harmony” has invited to the UK a representative of Regavim, 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. It has written about the “dangers of Arab settlement and its spreading tentacles throughout Israel”.
It has actively petitioned the Israeli government to demolish the Palestinian village of Khan Al Ahmar, a proposal condemned by human rights organisations and governmental bodies across the world including the UK government.
Regavim was cofounded by MK Bezalel Smotrich, now a minister in Netanyahu’s government who is notorious for homophobic remarks, describing LGBT+ Jews as “beasts”, has defended violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians and suggested that Ahed Tamimi, then a 17 year old Palestinian girl arrested for preventing an Israeli soldier illegally entering her home, should be shot in the knee caps. He also spoke in defence of Israeli Jews refusing to sell homes to Palestinian citizens stating ”someone who wants to protect the Jewish People and oppose mixed marriages is not a racist. Someone who wants to let Jews live a Jewish life without non-Jews is not a racist.”
UKLFI, the group who has invited Regavim to the UK, devotes most of its energy to lobbying public bodies in order to suppress activism for Palestinian rights. It particularly targets organisations promoting the peaceful, Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, lodging complaints with regulatory bodies and sending letters threatening legal action. Its targets have included academics, students unions, architects and local councils.
UKLFI seeks to frame groups advocating for Palestinian rights as extremists, but happily invites to the UK an organisation that has promoted violent racist narratives, and the violation of international law. UKLFI itself refuses to accept the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law. Astonishingly its patrons include Lord Carlile, who has been charged by the UK government to review Prevent, the UK Governments heavily criticised strategy for countering extremism. We would ask, in this context, how he can defend his status as a patron of a charity that is inviting to the UK a representative of an extremist organisation
PSC, with partners, will be organising a protest of this event on September 1st (details to follow). 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 as described above – clearly complicit in promoting illegality and hate speech.