‘We Believe in Israel’: Conference trolled by anti-Semites on Facebook
The pro-Israel event, “open to anyone who supports the right of Israel to live in peace and security,” drew a flurry of Facebook posts, with one user branding Israelis “child killers.”
“It actually shows exactly why we need a major conference like this to act as a springboard for a united pro-Israel fight back in the UK,” We Believe in Israel director Luke Akehurst told The Jewish Chronicle.
One anti-Semitic Facebook post described the event as “load of sh**,” adding the only reason the Jewish haven’t been “wiped out” is “because half of the American defense secretaries are Jewish.”
“You are the worst of the worst. Every Palestinian you have killed, I pray to Allah you Zionists pigs never get forgiven,” another Facebook user added.
We Believe in Israel Conference endorsed by key leaders - http://t.co/FwZW9hjFP6
— We Believe in Israel (@WeBelieveIsrael) March 11, 2015
Evoking the mass persecution and extermination of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, one user posted: “Nazis did well to protect themselves too against the Jews but shame they didn’t go all the way.”
Akehurst has reported the abusive comments to Facebook.
Mick Davis, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council told The Jewish News Online the We Believe in Israel conference is “the kind of enabling initiative our community needs” to fight anti-Semitism.
“We need to address as a community our need for a forum to discuss what support for Israel actually means to its supporters and how we can translate that support into effective and legitimate action,” Davis told the paper.
He said the conference is for “the pro-Israel community to come together, regardless of their political affiliations.”
However, the organizers have been accused of “scrutinizing the political beliefs of those attending.”
Hilary Aked, freelance journalist and PhD student at the University of Bath researching the pro-Israel lobby in the UK, was denied entry to the conference.
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) March 17, 2015
In a blog on The Electronic Intifada, she said: “I signed up to attend making no attempt to conceal my identity.”
Those behind the event “wrote to me to say my application to attend had not been accepted,” she said. The refusal letter cited her work on “Spinwatch, in particular your report on BICOM” – British Israeli Communications & Research Centre.
Aked said it is “not surprising” an organization defending Israel’s “ongoing dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians would ban critics from its events.”
Israel’s right to exist
The We Believe in Israel conference comes ahead of a University of Southampton academic forum questioning Israel’s right to exist under international law.
The three-day conference, titled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” is scheduled to take place April 17-19.
The event has been condemned by many in the Jewish community, with over 3,000 people signing a petition against it. Jewish leaders said it “surpasses the unacceptable.”
— Zionist Federation (@ZionistFed) March 11, 2015
Judging by the name and the advertised speakers, Jewish leaders said the symposium “sets out explicitly to question the very legitimacy of a member of the UN,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
In a letter to the university, Jewish leaders accused Southampton’s Law School of “being used as an academic platform to advance, not just to legitimate, Palestinian national rights.”
“What other state in the global community of nations – democratic or tyrannical – is ever subjected to such a critique? The conference causes us great concern and distress.
It will undoubtedly trouble greatly the members of the UK Jewish community,” the leaders said.
They urged the university to reconsider holding the event.
A spokesperson for the University of Southampton defended the right of academics to explore “controversial issues.”
“The conference aims to examine the role international law can play in political struggles and to act as a platform for scholarly debate, welcoming academic contributions from a range of perspectives,” the spokesperson said.