Sunday, December 21, 2014

UK Pro-Israel Groups Claim a Victory in Fightback Against BDS

IsraACTION Day - a creative way to beat the boycotters
'IsrACTION Day' unites British Jews, Christians during festive season by supporting Israel and helping the homeless at the same time.
(INN) Pro-Israel groups in the UK are celebrating an "unprecedented" success in fighting back against the anti-Israel boycott movement, with their first annual "IsrACTION Day."

With the slogan "Beat the Boycotts – Help the Homeless," the nationwide campaign was led by Sussex Friends of Israel in Brighton and the Manchester-based Northwest Friends of Israel and timed for the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons.

Local community volunteers spent the day purchasing Israeli-made non-perishable products from supermarket chains and delivering the much needed food to local food banks and homeless shelters at what is the busiest time of the year for them.

"We have been overwhelmed by the global success of IsrACTION Day," said Fiona Sharpe of Sussex Friends of Israel.

"From Cork to Belfast, Australia to America, Brighton, Glasgow and many places in between, individuals and communities have embraced this timely initiative that has enabled people to show their support for Israel and their care for those less fortunate in their communities."

Jewish and Christian volunteers joined forces to use some festive spirit in their fightback against growing attempts by the radical BDS Movement - which calls to single out the Jewish state for boycotts, divestment and sanctions - to intimidate stores into boycotting goods made by Israeli Jews.

While anti-Israel extremists in the UK have often held protests outside stores selling Israeli goods, the past summer saw that campaign take a particularly nasty turn. In one incident, a Tesco store was vandalized by anti-Israel thugs in the English city of Birmingham; in another, a Sainsbury's store removed all of its kosher goods in a capitulation to aggressive protests which left British Jews outraged.

The massive spike in anti-Semitism during that period provoked British Jews to mobilize and pressure politicians to take a tough stance against anti-Jewish bigotry; but grassroots pro-Israel groups say IsraACTION Day is a positive way to beat the BDS bullies in particular.

Many communities like Brighton and Manchester had made special arrangements with supermarkets to have their contributions delivered to the soup kitchens or homeless shelters with whom they already work. Others communities arranged for special drop-off locations from where the donations will be delivered tomorrow.

Throughout the UK soup kitchens and homeless shelters have welcomed the initiative even as some were reporting being targeted local BDS groups who sought to sabotage their efforts.

"You know what? I don’t think any of the folks here will care where the food comes from. They’re just happy to eat this Christmas," one soup kitchen volunteer in one homeless shelter in the seaside town of Brighton said. Efforts in Brighton were particularly successful, in part due to a generous donation by the newly-founded Israel Solidarity Campaign.

As is becoming increasingly common in the UK, the many well-funded "establishment" pro-Israel and Jewish groups - many of whom were accused of inaction during the summer war between Israel and Gazan terrorists - found themselves playing catch-up to grassroots activists.

Besides the England-based Sussex and Northwest Friends of Israel, other Friends of Israel groups throughout the UK helped coordinate efforts, including in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They were soon joined by national, and in some cases international organizations, including Stand With Us, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation.

Sussex Friends of Israel co-founder Simon Cobbs said the initiative was just the opening salvo in the fightback against BDS.

"IsrACTION day was a remarkable success, showing once again that communities across the UK are happy to show their support for Israel and to help those in need at this time of year," he told Arutz Sheva, adding that it proved coordinated activism could make a real difference.

"This was only the first of what we hope will become an annual and important event on the community calender. You 'aint seen nothing yet! Today IsrACTION Day showed that we can beat the boycotters and do good at the same time!"