Why Britain Needs StandWithUs
by Chas Newkey-Burden
Last weekend I had the honour of speaking at the Israeli Embassy in London, as part of a one-day conference organised by StandWithUs UK. As you can imagine, I was very excited to be there. The only times I had been to the Embassy before was to take part in pro-Israel demonstrations outside – the first during Operation Cast Lead and the second in the wake of the flotilla episode.
On both those occasions Israel-hating crazies held aggressive counter-demonstrations just yards away. So on Sunday it was lovely to be there without having to listen to hysterically-shrieked (and unintentionally revealing) fantasies about bloodshed and racism.
Instead, a wide variety of articulate and engaging speakers gave voice to the need for effective advocacy for Israel and the building of coalitions to get the message across. The speakers included students, a lawyer, a Palestinian journalist and, most memorably, Ariel Halevi, who simply blew the audience away with his magnificent seminar on effective debating.
It was an inspiring and educational conference which clearly demonstrated the urgent need for improved action by those who love Israel and then how best to go about that action. We listened to speakers, watched films and discussed options and strategies. It was impossible to not feel inspired.
I was the last speaker of the day – or top of the bill one might cheekily put it. I spoke about how to best advocate for Israel online. My speech seemed to go down well and it brought to an end a remarkable and encouraging day for all of us.
What an honour it was to speak at the Israeli Embassy and to be present at the official launch of a vital new voice in the pro-Israel chorus in these shores. I am both delighted and encouraged that StandWithUs has officially come to the UK. It is a wonderful organisation with a formidable global record. StandWithUs signs and flyers are a common feature of pro-Israel demonstrations the world over and its rate of success is second to none.
The mission behind StandWithUs is simple: education is the road to peace. It expertly counters misinformation and delegitimisation wherever they raise their ugly heads. This might seem a no-brainer but the difficult truth we have to face is that Israel’s enemies in Britain have for too long been gifted an open goal due to the timidity of some existing pro-Israel organisations here.
StandWithUs will counter the lies of organisations like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – a nasty, vicious group that has grown ever more forceful as the Zionist movement in Britain has lost its way and become, to an increasing extent, an impresario venture.
Ours really is a movement that is overdue some fresh faces and some truly imaginative ideas. StandWithUs is the perfect force to accomplish this, which is why I think it is vital that self-interests are put aside in favour of moving toward our greater goal. The
StandWithUs UK Coordinator, Gili Brenner, is the sort of bright, dynamic and passionate individual that we have for so long cried out for in these shores. I particularly welcome her presence here and look forward to helping her efforts flourish.
Let’s be clear about what we face: those who mean Israel harm wake every day thinking of new ways to damage and vilify the Jewish state. Therefore we need to reach out to people and educate them about Israel in new and creative ways. Each and every one of us needs to up our game so we can begin to turn round the damage that our enemies have been allowed to inflict on our cause in recent years.
The simple truth is this: all who genuinely care about Israel will welcome StandWithUs with open, celebratory and co-operative arms.
Visit Chas's blog at: OyVaGoy