A threatened demonstration by a coalition of British groups from the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel was all it took to intimidate a London NGO into postponing a lecture by the Israeli Regavim NGO that was to focus on European funding for illegal Palestinian Authority activity.
The event was put off ” so that proper security measures can be put into place,” according to the UKLFI Charitable Trust, which organized the event. The decision came after a consortium of BDS activists and anti-Israel groups threatened to hold a day-long a mass demonstration at the event, sparking fears of a “security threat.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the Demolitions, the Ramallah-based International Solidarity Movement and others organized under the banner, “Show Regavim and their supporters that they’re not welcome in Britain.”
“After conducting a threat analysis and evaluation of the security arrangements for the event, the hosts concluded that there was a possibility of violence, and decided to postpone the event until appropriate measures could ensure participants’ safety,” Regavim explained in a release.
As a result, the lecture — scheduled for the first day of September in London — was canceled at the last minute rather than simply hire enough security personnel to ensure the safety of the speaker and those attending the event. The decision to cave in to the threats of the BDS campaign has tacitly reinforced the message that Regavim and their supporters are, in fact, not welcome in Britain whether the organizers have realized it or not.
The event was to include a presentation of Regavim’s agenda and methods, as well as a survey of the legal aspects of land-use policy and law enforcement throughout the Land of Israel. At the same time, Regavim’s spokesperson was expected to outline the organization’s current campaign to halt European support for illegal Palestinian Authority construction and agricultural projects. Registrants for the event included jurists and laypeople, members of Zionist organizations and students.
“For over a decade, Regavim representatives have accepted invitations to lecture and debate, in Israel and throughout the world. We are happy to participate in any serious forum, and to conduct dialogue with anyone and everyone who is willing to hear what we have to say,” said Meir Deutsch, director-general of Regavim.
“The threats surrounding our upcoming lecture represent a whole new level of cooperation between extreme leftist organizations operating in Israel and abroad with Palestinian organizations that act to silence dissenting opinions and competing narratives.
“Regavim is gratified by the outrage expressed by donors and supporters who were notified of the event’s postponement, and we have begun to schedule meetings with individuals and groups who are interested in learning the facts.”
In a separate statement, the UKLFI Charitable Trust said, “Regavim seeks to ensure proper application of planning laws both in Israel within the Green Line and in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli administration in line with the Oslo Accords. As the intended speaker, Naomi Linder Kahn, has pointed out, proper enforcement of these laws benefits Arabs as well as Jews: see https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-arab-sectors-housing-crisis-is-real-and-solvable/.
“We are disappointed that freedom of speech has been inhibited on this occasion but we are hopeful that the talk can be re-arranged in the near future, so that the activities of Regavim and the issues it seeks to address can be discussed and criticized in an open and civilized way.”