Media Centre

BICOM: Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre
Media team: +44 (0)20 3745 3348

The BICOM media team – what we can do for you

The BICOM media team works closely with journalists to provide a range of services. These include:

  • Arranging interviews with Israeli politicians, former and serving diplomats, academics and analysts at leading think-tanks.
  • Suggesting experts for media interviews or background briefings for articles on a wide range of subjects related to Israel and the Middle East.
  • Suggesting potential op-ed writers.
  • Providing the latest polling data from Israel and the Palestinian Authority
  • Organising media delegations to Israel both for those who have never visited Israel, and for those who are already experts on the region.
  • Hosting conferences, seminars and briefings in the UK with Israel and Middle East experts.
  • Offering briefings, analysis and background information on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East in the news agenda. This includes providing weekly analysis emails, a daily press review and bespoke briefings from BICOM’s Research Team.

For enquiries, please contact:

For out of hours enquiries, please call the media team on 07879 644 099 or email mediateam@bicom.org.uk.

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4 November 2016

New BICOM/Populus poll finds even stronger opposition to boycotts of Israel

The number of British people who do not support economic boycotts of Israel has soared over the last year, according to exclusive new polling.

A new Populus opinion poll for Israel and Middle East think tank BICOM has revealed that 51 per cent of people “do not boycott Israeli goods, and find it difficult to see why others would single out Israel given everything else that is going on in the world”.  This is up eight per cent compared to last year’s survey. 12 per cent disagree with the statement.

56 per cent of people agree that a boycott hurts both Palestinians and Israelis and this has increased by nine per cent since October 2015.

Britons are also more than twice as likely to agree as disagree that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitic. 48 per cent of people believe that it is antisemitic, while only 20 per cent believe that it is not. 57 per cent of people however agree that just criticising Israel is not antisemitic.

There has been an increase in the number of people agreeing with the British policy in 1917 to support the creation of a Jewish homeland, as expressed in the Balfour Declaration. The finding is especially revealing given that the document approaches its centenary in 2017. 43 per cent say they agree with the policy, up from 40 per cent the year before.

Israel is still considered to be Britain’s strongest ally in the Middle East. 57 per cent of Britons regard Israel as an ally of Britain in the Middle East, up from 52 per cent from October 2015 and the highest figure for countries in the region.

Overall British warmth towards Israel remains stable at 19 per cent, while British warmth towards Israelis is at 24 per cent. This is in comparison to 20 per cent warmth towards Palestinians, and 11 per cent support for the Palestinian authority.

Commenting on the findings, James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said:

“Our poll show a very significant shift against the idea of boycotting Israel. The majority opposing it has increased by as much as eight per cent over the past year. The British sense of fair play is a clear theme in the poll as time and again respondents reject singling out Israel, given everything else going on in the world.

“In a year where we have seen several public figures attempt to explain their hatred of Israel as a political position, the judgement of the British people is stark. They clearly understand that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitism, pure and simple.

“Israel is rightly seen as a strong ally of Britain, and Brits agree with the part we played declaring our support for a Jewish homeland in the aftermath of the First World War almost 100 years ago.”

Key findings:

  • The number of Britons who regard Israel as an ally in the region has increased. 57 per cent now say that Israel is a British ally, compared to 52 per cent in 2015.
  • 51 per cent of people would not boycott Israeli goods, and find it difficult to see why others would single out Israel given everything else that is going on in the world. This is up eight per cent from last year, when 43 per cent held this view.
  • 48 per cent of people believe that “hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitic”. This is more than double the 20 per cent of people who believe that is not antisemitic.
  • 19 per cent of Britons feel warmth towards Israel, while British warmth towards Israelis is at 24 per cent. This is in comparison to 20 per cent warmth for Palestinians, and just 11 per cent warmth for the Palestinian Authority.
  • 43 per cent of people support the Balfour declaration that indicated Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1917 up from 40 per cent the year before.
  • ISIS is seen as the greatest threat to both Britain and Israel. 75 per cent think the terror group is a threat to the UK, while 60 per cent think it is a threat to Israel. Hamas is considered a threat to Britain by 15 per cent of respondents, and Hezbollah by 14 per cent of respondents. This numbers more than doubles to 35 per cent and 32 per cent respectively when respondents are asked if Hamas and Hezbollah are considered to be a threat to Israel.

Contact
Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
07879 644 099
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

On behalf of BICOM Populus surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,054 GB adults online between 14 and 16 October 2016. An additional survey was conducted by Populus with a nationally representative sample of 2,042 GB adults online between 7 and 9 October 2016

James Sorene is available for interview.

Infographics and graphs available on request.

Countries and groups that are considered a threat to Israel – ISIS (60 per cent), Hamas (35 per cent), Hezbollah (32 per cent), Iran (28 per cent), Russia (18 per cent), Egypt (nine per cent), Turkey (eight per cent).

Countries and groups that are considered a threat to the UK – ISIS (75 per cent), Russia (22 per cent), Iran (16 per cent), Hamas (15 per cent), Hezbollah (14 per cent), Turkey (seven per cent), Egypt (five per cent). 

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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16 October 2016

BICOM responds to the Home Affairs Select Committee antisemitism inquiry report

BICOM, the Israel and Middle East think tank, welcomes the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report into antisemitism in the UK.

James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said:

“This report brings much needed clarity where previously there has been denial, obfuscation and abdication of responsibility.

“I welcome the committee’s condemnation of ‘Zionist’ as a term of abuse and the recommendation that in such a context it should be considered inflammatory and potentially antisemitic. This issue was highlighted in BICOM’s submission to the inquiry.

“We also agree that Baroness Chakrabarti’s report into antisemitism did not go far enough, failing to acknowledge an issue of antisemitic anti-Zionism that BICOM has highlighted in our extensive research on this issue.

“As the Committee states, criticising the Government of Israel is entirely legitimate, as is criticism of any Government, but abusing Jewish people and claiming it is about Israel or Zionism can never be justified in any circumstances.

“Those who portray the existence of Israel as a crime and indulge dangerous fantasies about the country no longer existing are not only deeply offensive, but antisemitic. There is a constructive debate in the UK about how to reach a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of which we are a part. Those that tolerate or indulge antisemitic anti-Zionism place themselves outside of that debate.”

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
07879 644 099
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM’s submission to the HASC inquiry into antisemitism can be read in full here.

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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19 September 2016

Edition 14 of the Fathom journal

Tech entrepreneur Reem Younis explains the need for more investment in Arab entrepreneurship, author Ben Cohen criticises Obama’s Iran delusion, Jonathan Rynhold examines the potential benefits and pitfalls of Brexit to Israel, and more.

Leading female Arab-Israeli entrepreneur Reem Younis is the co-founder of Nazareth-based Alpha Omega, a global high-tech company that seeks to further high-tech skills, employment and entrepreneurship among Israel’s Arab citizens.

She argues for a new sensibility to the Arab minority and to Israel’s periphery in order to boost the employment of Arabs in the high-tech sector, as she believes the trend is changing, but not at the pace needed for Arab graduates.

Also in this edition, author Ben Cohen claims the idea that Iran has embraced a previously hidden sense of civic responsibility alongside its newly-boosted political and military influence, promoted by US President Barack Obama, is nothing more than a delusion.

Cohen lays out his criticism of President Obama’s foreign policy, arguing that the very idea of the deal is flawed, and that, as expected, it has led to a new era of Iranian power and any restraints to that power are imposed on them by Russia, not the US.

Professor Jonathan Rynhold, of Bar Ilan University, analyses the potential implications of Britain’s exit from the EU for its relations with Israel. He explains that while the EU has not been too great a drag on UK-Israel relations, and that Britain has been a useful voice for Israel within the EU, Brexit may help strengthen the relationship further.

Azriel  Bermant,  Research  Fellow  at  the  Institute  for  National  Security Studies (INSS), argues that  the UK-Israel  relationship is more likely to flourish than deteriorate following  the EU referendum debate.

BICOM’s Senior Research Fellow Michael Herzog writes on Israel’s core security requirements in permanent-status negotiations and solutions. Herzog considers the implications of a demilitarised Palestinian state, and potential solutions for the Jordan Valley. Gershon Hacohen also analyses security strategy, discussing the priority of values and strategic direction in this context.

On the same topic, Colonel Kris Bauman, Senior Military Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), and Ilan Goldenberg, Director of the Center for New American Security (CNAS), explain their extensive research that builds on previous work in negotiations and aims to provide a starting point for further discussion and refinement, in order to resolve the security component of final status discussions between Israelis and Palestinians. Amongst other things, they outline how they are guided by the challenge of preventing the West Bank from going the way of Gaza after Israel’s withdrawal in 2005.

A piece by specialist in Critical Theory and legal philosophy Simon Gansinger offers an in depth perspective on  how anti-Zionism was used to camouflage antisemitism in the brutal destruction of Poland’s Jewish community in 1968 at the hands of the communist regime. Gansinger notes the significance of regime officials calling Jews “the fifth column”, stoking antisemitic mistrust of the tiny community by questioning their commitment to Poland in light of their Zionism.

Marlene Gallner, of the University of Vienna, analyses author Jean Améry’s “Critique of Anti-Zionism”. Améry published several essays on anti-Zionism when it spread amongst left-wing students in the 1960s, and, as Gallner notes, was a strong supporter of the State of Israel after his experience in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

Professor Alan Johnson, Editor of Fathom, said:

“Fathom 14 examines four challenges facing Israel: the challenge of creating a shared society, of creating a security system for the two-state solution, of responding to Brexit, and of understanding and combatting the historical tributaries, contemporary forms and damaging political impacts of the ideology of anti-Zionism.

“With a host of compelling pieces from both well-established figures such as Ben Cohen, Michael Herzog and Philip Spencer, and exciting new writers such as Marlene Gallner, Simon Gansinger, and Sapan Maini-Thompson, this edition of Fathom helps provide a deeper understanding of some of the most difficult issues facing Israel and the wider region at this time.

EXTRACTS

Interview with Rabbi Shemtov and Rebbetzin Shoshana Menachem, coordinator of the ultra-Orthodox programme at the Citizens Accord Forum (CAF) and coordinator of CAFs ultra-Orthodox women’s group.

“We sit together in a cafe, equal numbers of Arab women and Jewish women. People stare in from the street and wonder what are those people doing together? By sitting together we have already made a statement and that is our aim; to show that we love each other, we care for each other, and we try to help each other by working out our problems together.”

Extract from “Othering Zionism: the theoretical affinities of the Islamists and the New Left,” by Sapan Maini-Thompson

“In his 1970 publication Islamic Government, Khomeini identified Zionism as a doctrine of domination and supremacy and Zionists as agents of [Western] imperialism, bent upon destroying the ideals of the Muslims. In contrast to the New Leftist paradigm of settler-colonialism, Khomeini purveyed a conspiratorial notion of metropole colonialism suggesting that Israel’s creation at the hand of the great powers was evidence of an incipient imperial project in the Middle East.”

Extract from book review of “Ben-Gurion: His Later Years in the Political Wilderness,” by Colin Shindler

“This latest work from Avi Shilon describes in detail Ben-Gurions last decade – from stepping down as prime minister in June 1963 until his death in December 1973. They were not glorious years and were peppered by anger, bitterness, disputation and disagreement. Throughout his life, he had never bowed to convention, spoke his mind using outrageous language and harboured grudges for an eternity.”

ENDS

CONTACT

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
T: 020 7636 5500
M: 07879 644 099
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

The latest edition of Fathom, and previous issues, can be read at http://fathomjournal.org/

Fathom: for a deeper understanding of Israel and the region is BICOM’s quarterly online research journal.

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07 September 2016

Fatah’s rule of the Palestinian Authority at risk in a post-Abbas era

Fatah, the current ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), may lose its role as the vanguard of the Palestinian national movement if it fails to integrate its younger activists and take steps to address their grievances, according to a new report published today (Wednesday, 7th September.)

A new Strategic Assessment by the Israel and Middle East think tank BICOM, Palestinian politics after Abbas: the next Palestinian strategic direction, the second in a two-part series analysing Palestinian politics in the post-Abbas era, details how a weakened Fatah would leave a potential void that could be filled by terror group Hamas. Assuming leadership of the Palestinian national movement has been a key goal of Hamas since its founding.

The report looks into challenges and potential strategic directions for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in a post-Abbas era. Faced with a constituency that has grown disillusioned with the promises of the Oslo process, Abbas’s successor is likely to reject the bilateral negotiation track towards establishing two states as represented by the Camp David summit in 2000, Annapolis process in 2007-2009 and Kerry talks in 2013-2014. In its stead may come the continuation of the internationalisation agenda, a sustained campaign of nonviolent resistance, or the emergence of a one-state option.

Lauren Mellinger, Research Fellow at BICOM and author of the report, said:

“What we are witnessing at the moment within Palestinian domestic politics is the end of the Abbas-era, and with that, likely the end of the rule of the ‘old guard’.

“Whoever succeeds Abbas will face a variety of strategic options and challenges. They will have to decide on how security coordination with Israel should continue, if at all, whether to double down on Abbas’ internationalisation strategy, and respond to the growing numbers of Palestinians calling for a single state in lieu of independent statehood – an increasingly popular option with younger Palestinians.”

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
07879 644099

Notes to editors

The new BICOM Strategic Assessment Palestinian politics after Abbas: the next Palestinian strategic direction can be read here.

 

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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01 September 2016

Race to succeed President Mahmoud Abbas already underway

The race to succeed the current President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is already in full swing, with possible replacements starting to come to the fore, according to a new report published today (Thursday, 1st September).

Palestinian politics after Abbas: institutional and constitutional challenges, a new Strategic Assessment by the Israel and Middle East think tank BICOM, shows that although President Mahmoud Abbas remains in power, determinedly hanging on after 11 years at the top of Palestinian politics, potential future leaders from within Fatah and beyond are beginning to emerge – despite it being unlikely that Abbas will name a deputy or relinquish power in the near future.

Palestinian political institutions are already in decline, languishing since Hamas expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007. With a variety of names already competing to succeed Abbas, there is the risk that, in a post-Abbas scenario, a drawn out race could potentially result in the collapse of the PA and seriously destabilise the West Bank. Many young Fatah activists continue to see no path for political advancement outside of the Fatah movement, according to the report, but to what extent Abbas’s successor will succumb to pressure from the public to end the Oslo process – security coordination with Israel in particular – with serious implications for stability in the area, remains an open question. This risk of further destabilisation is already causing increasing concern to Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

The report also assesses the process of succession and those tipped to replace Abbas, finding that the conditions strongly favour a candidate emerging from Fatah without elections, and that whoever emerges will either be popular at home or liked by the international community, but not both.

Potential successors to Abbas include Palestinian Liberal Organisation (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat, who is thought by some to be Abbas’s preferred choice.

The exiled former Head of the Palestinian security service in Gaza Mohammad Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti, who retains popular support despite currently being in prison in Israel, are also considered to be in the running, as are Abbas loyalist Majed Faraj, and former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Former PA PM Ahmed Qurei, former Chief of Palestinian Preventive Security Jibril Rajoub, and current PA PM Rami Hamdallah, are also potential candidates.

Lauren Mellinger, Research Fellow at BICOM and author of the report, said:

“President Abbas is now 11 years into what was supposed to be a four-year term. With no progress in peace negotiations, no independent state, and increasing frustration amongst Palestinians towards what they consider a highly corrupt PA, the Palestinian succession battle is already underway.

“While predicting Abbas’s successor remains largely an open question, one thing is clear: those who assume the leadership of the PA, PLO, and Fatah will face the difficult task of leading a people who have become increasingly disillusioned with the Oslo process, and with the failure of their own leaders to deliver a Palestinian state. At the same time they have to manage the demands of the international community that the Israelis and Palestinians continue to work towards a peace deal.”

Other key points:

  • Amid the succession crisis, Fatah is subject to internal crises leading many Palestinians to question its legitimacy;
  • The absence of internal elections and failure to address the growing generational divide threatens the party’s future as a leader of the Palestinian national movement;
  • The end of the Abbas-era likely marks the end of the rule of the old guard, “Tunis-based” political leadership – giving way to the “young guard” comprised of those who spent the majority of their lives in the West Bank and Gaza and established their credibility by participating in the intifadas and serving time in Israeli prisons.

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
07879 644099

Notes to editors

The Strategic Assessment Palestinian politics after Abbas: institutional and constitutional challenges can be read here.

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

 

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08 August 2016

BICOM reacts to more revelations of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric at the top of the Labour Party.

“Revelations that Labour Party shadow cabinet members have made comparisons between Israel and ISIS come as no surprise, given the party’s own inquiry into antisemitism failed to recognise the dangerous, systematic demonisation of Israel by some activists and within the leadership of Labour. When Labour’s own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, calls anti-Israel extremist Sami Ramadani a ‘very great friend’, it naturally becomes harder to stamp out this sort of rhetoric from the party.

“Some of the comments made by Labour MPs about Israel and Zionists show a fundamental misunderstanding of what Zionism is. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. It is a movement driven by a desire for the Jewish people to live in an independent state, to shape their own destiny free from centuries of horrific persecution.

“Criticising the Government of Israel is of course entirely legitimate as it is for any Government. But if you portray the existence of Israel as a crime and indulge dangerous fantasies about the country no longer existing, that is antisemitic and deeply offensive. There is a constructive debate in the UK about how to reach a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK of which we are part, and this is not it.”

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
07879 644099
charlotte@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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15 July 2016

The Iran nuclear deal one year on

A year has passed since the Iran deal was signed as a way of curbing Iranian nuclear ambitions that threatened its neighbours and reduced the chances of stability in the region. BICOM, the Israel and Middle East think tank, has released a new Strategic Assessment that outlines how the deal is being implemented, its impact on Iran’s foreign and domestic policy, and the consequences for Israel.

Key points of the report:

  • While the deal is largely being implemented – temporarily pushing Iran back from the nuclear threshold – loopholes, monitoring gaps, and missile testing validate concerns that Iran retains the ambition to pursue nuclear weapons capability when restrictions expire in 10-15 years.
  • Iran appears emboldened by the deal in promoting its sectarian regional agenda, fuelling conflict in various theatres.
  • The last year leaves doubts about the Western commitment to confront Iran and endanger the deal.
  • The deal has reinforced concerns of Sunni Arab states, contributing to heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, and increased Saudi arms spending.
  • Despite popular support in Iran for pragmatic-conservatives represented by President Rouhani, hardliners continue to dominate the system.
  • Iran has received an economic boost from the lifting of sanctions, but is frustrated by the continuing reluctance of foreign firms to do business with it.
  • Israel is using the hiatus in Iranian nuclear development to prepare militarily and diplomatically for a future with Iran on the nuclear threshold, including warmer relations with Sunni Arab states.

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
charlotte@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Download BICOM’s Strategic Assessment Iran one year on from the sanctions here.

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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12 July 2016

Hezbollah war worst scenario for Israel

Ten years ago, Israel fought the terrorist group Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War. A new strategic assessment from Israel and the Middle East think tank BICOM outlines that, a decade on, Hezbollah is continuing to rearm and another war with Hezbollah is the biggest military threat to Israel.

Key points of the report:

  • On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, a future war with Hezbollah is considered the most threatening scenario for the IDF due to the organisation’s significant military capability.
  • In light of the failure of an ‘enhanced’ UN force to prevent Hezbollah rearming, Israel is sceptical of relying on international forces to defend its borders, a policy that has consequences for the security component of negotiations over the establishment of a Palestinian state.
  • The IDF’s new security doctrine reflects a focus on non-state actors and asymmetric warfare, and establishes new military and strategic approaches as well as redefined standards of what victory means.
  • Israel’s political leadership has failed to fully implement recommendations for improving the national security decision-making

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Officer
020 3745 3348
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM Strategic Assessment: The Second Lebanon War can be downloaded here.

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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04 July 2016

BICOM statement on Tzipi Livni incident

James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said:

“This incident reveals an urgent need to clarify the muddle that is Universal Jurisdiction laws. These powers should be deployed properly and precisely to bring war criminals to justice, they must never be misused as show tactics for political campaigners and brought into disrepute.

“The Metropolitan Police need to explain why they departed from established protocol. The Home Office and the FCO should now work together on new guidance to police to ensure that the correct procedures are followed and this kind of incident is avoided in future.’

ENDS

Contact

Thais Portilho, Head of Communications
020 3745 3348
07879 644099
thaisp@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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30 June 2016

BICOM responds to the Chakrabarti Inquiry

Responding to the release of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into antisemitism in the Labour Party, BICOM CEO James Sorene said:

“We regret that the inquiry has failed to recognise the dangerous, systematic demonisation of Israel by those Labour Party members who cross the line into antisemitism and attempt to disguise it as anti-Zionism. There are sadly no recommendations for new measures to allow them to be removed as members and the inquiry effectively offers an amnesty, which it calls a moratorium, to those who have used antisemitic language in the past.

“The report is vague and indecisive on action against members who indulge in antisemitic anti-Zionism, and dismisses a culture of systematic demonisation of Israel as a ‘series of unhappy incidents’.

“If you portray the existence of Israel as a crime and indulge dangerous fantasies about the country no longer existing, that that is antisemitic and deeply offensive. There is a constructive debate in the UK about how to reach a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK of which we are part, and this is not it.

“Criticising the Government of Israel is of course entirely legitimate as it is for any Government. But when that criticism is expressed in violent language, directed at its people in racist terms or uses references to Hitler and Nazism, it is antisemitic and deeply offensive. As such we are encouraged that the inquiry recommends references to Hitler and Nazism should be resisted in this context.

“We acknowledge recommendations that the use of antisemitic language by some Labour Party members towards Jews, namely the word ‘Zio’ is ugly and hurtful and hope that, as and when they are implemented, students supporting Zionism involved in Labour societies in universities across the country will feel emboldened to publicly express their views without being bullied or harassed.”

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Office
020 3745 3348
charlotte@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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29 June 2016

New agreement between Israel and Turkey set to improve conditions in the Gaza Strip

The newly signed agreement between Israel and Turkey marks a significant change in the role played by Turkey in the Gaza Strip, where they now plan to build a hospital, a power plant and desalination facility.

Middle East think tank BICOM has today published a strategic assessment of the Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal, agreed today by Israel’s Security Cabinet, and the compromises made on both sides in order to come to an agreement. These compromises include Turkey withdrawing its demands related to access to Gaza and Israel agreeing to facilitate the delivery of Turkish aid to Gaza. Turkey also agreed to stop Hamas using the country as a base from which to plan and implement terror attacks on Israel.

Today’s deal signifies a reset in relations between Israel and a leading Sunni Muslim state after relations collapsed in the aftermath of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, a ship that was part of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010.

The briefing also outlines that:

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the agreement as part of an Israeli strategy to “create centres of stability in the stormy Middle East”
  • The two countries will resume military and intelligence cooperation
  • Turkey has ended its veto which prevented Israel upgrading its ties with NATO, with Israel having opened a permanent mission at its Brussels headquarters at the end of May
  • Building on already strong tourism ties, and the doubling of trade between the two countries from 2010 to 2015, the deal will give Turkey the opportunity to diversify its energy supply after the announcement of a gas pipeline to Israel

BICOM CEO, James Sorene, said: “Today’s deal is a hugely significant diplomatic breakthrough for both the Israeli and Turkish Government. Closer relations now mean progress can be made on many issues. It opens the door to a deeper Israeli engagement with NATO and provides a route for Israel and Hamas to deescalate tensions in times of crisis. Turkey’s commitment to provide more aid to Gaza will also provide welcome assistance to an area long neglected by the region and the international community.”

ENDS

Contact

Charlotte Henry
Senior Press Office
020 3745 3348
charlotte@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM Strategic Assessment: Israeli-Turkish Reconciliation can be downloaded here.

BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is an independent British think tank producing research and analysis to increase understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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28 April 2016

BICOM’s statement on antisemitic anti-Zionism in the Labour Party

James Sorene, BICOM CEO said:

“Recent comments about Israel and Zionists by members of the Labour party, and the way some have defended them, show a fundamental misunderstanding of what Zionism is. Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. It is a movement driven by a desire for the Jewish people to live in an independent state, to shape their own destiny free from centuries of horrific persecution.

“Anti-Zionists deny the Jewish people their right to national self-determination, seek to portray the very existence of Israel as a crime and indulge dangerous fantasies about the country no longer existing. Criticism of the Israeli government is of course entirely legitimate, as it is against any government. But when that criticism is expressed in violent language, directed at its people in racist terms or uses references to Hitler and Nazism, it is antisemitic and deeply offensive. If the only country in the world that you want to disappear is the Jewish one then you are in very bad company, on the wrong side of history.”

ENDS

For further information and interview requests please contact:

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
T: 0207 636 5500
M: 07796043925
Out of hours: 07879 644099
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

BICOM is an independent British research centre producing analysis, insight and commentary to promote a greater understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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6 April 2016

Hezbollah using Syrian conflict to prepare for war against Israel, according to new BICOM research

According to the paper Hezbollah in 2016: damaged goods or dangerous war machine? published today, Lebanese armed, radical militia Hezbollah is already in possession of between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles, many of which are hidden amongst the civilian population of South Lebanon.

The research shows Hezbollah continues to take advantage of the civil war in Syria, a key conduit for arms from Iran, in an attempt to improve its military capacity for a future conflict with Israel.

The radical group entered the Syrian civil war with the aim of maintaining Assad’s regime and creating a “state within a state in Syria” as an insurance policy to protect Iranian interests, in case the regime were to fall. Hezbollah fighters were also directly involved in combat operations in key battlefields, as well as the siege of Madaya, where a reported 40,000 Syrians have been struggling for food.

While Hezbollah is looking to avoid an all-out conflict with Israel for now, it already has a sophisticated military capability that poses serious policy problems for the country it describes as a “cancerous Zionist enemy”. It has recently threatened to strike cities and strategic sites throughout Israel, including an ammonia factory in Haifa, offshore gas fields, and Ben Gurion Airport.

James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said: “Hezbollah have been patiently growing their military capability with the purpose of intimidating and threatening Israel, the country it wants to see removed from the map. It continues to try and establish military infrastructure on the Golan and to improve its already significant rocket arsenal, a strategy that the current Syrian ceasefire is unlikely to alter. An all-out Israel-Hezbollah conflict, although unlikely for the time being, would have devastating consequences for Israel and Lebanon.”

Other key points:

  • In March 2016, the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) formally categorised Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, describing it as a “militia” and arguing that “Hezbollah’s incitement and terrorist acts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq are contrary to morality and human values”.
  • Hezbollah’s military wing was designated as a terrorist group by the UK in 2008, and by the European Union in 2013.
  • Hezbollah decision to become heavily involved in the Syrian civil war alongside the Assad regime has further polarised an already fractured domestic political arena in Lebanon, as well as generated retaliatory attacks against Hezbollah from within the country.
  • A future war between Israel and Hezbollah would likely be devastating. Thousands of Hezbollah missiles have a range and accuracy to strike cities and strategic sites throughout Israel.
  • In February 2016, Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah threatened to attack Israel’s ammonia factory in Haifa, warning that the damage caused would be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb.

ENDS

CONTACT

Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer
T: 0207 636 5500
M: 07796043925
Out of hours: 07879 644099
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Hezbollah in 2016: damaged goods or dangerous war machine? can be downloaded here http://www.bicom.org.uk/analysis-article/29101/

BICOM is an independent British research centre producing analysis, insight and commentary to promote a greater understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

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24 March 2016

BICOM’s statement in response to the incident in Hebron earlier today

“The alleged shooting of an injured terror suspect in Hebron by an Israel Defence Forces soldier, as seen in a video recorded at the scene, is unacceptable and falls dramatically short of the high standards expected from and routinely displayed by the Israel Defence Forces. It is fitting that all soldiers at the scene are currently being investigated by the Military Police, the Chief of Staff has ordered a thorough investigation, and the Minister of Defence and Prime Minister have swiftly condemned the incident in the strongest terms.

“This incident, coupled with the relentless terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, police and soldiers since October last year, only serves to highlight the need for all parties to work together to de-escalate tensions and start a fresh dialogue that will hopefully lead to the peaceful establishment of two states for two peoples.”

ENDS

CONTACT

Thais Portilho, Head of Communications
T: 020 7636 5500
M: 07879644099
thaisp@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM is an independent British research centre producing analysis, insight and commentary to promote a greater understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.

 

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15 March 2016

Statement in response to the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria

James Sorene, BICOM CEO, said:

“This is an unexpected move that shakes up an already dangerous and complex situation but weakens the Assad regime, which was reliant on Russian air superiority.  It is an indication that Russia believes that gains so far can be now locked in for the foreseeable future and that the regime will survive.

“Russia’s departure will strengthen Iran’s grip on Syria and Lebanon, which is of great concern for the wider region. Israel had developed a functional relationship with Russia during its military involvement in Syria and Russia represented a ‘moderating’ influence on Iranian-Hezbollah ambitions. Russia’s withdrawal will create a vacuum that may be filled by Iranian or Hezbollah troops, strengthening their foothold in the country. It will likely allow the Iranian led axis to transfer sophisticated game-changing weapons to Hezbollah and establish an operational foothold on the Golan – both red lines for Israel.

“There were concerns from Israel that Hezbollah’s proximity to Russian military forces would ultimately enhance the group’s development of a more offensive-minded strategy, with significant implications for the planning and conduct of any future conflicts against Israel. Russia’s withdrawal seems to have diminished this threat and will also likely grant Israel greater military freedom of action to protect its interests in Syria.”

CONTACT
Charlotte Henry, Senior Press Officer

T: 020 7636 5500
M: 07796043925
charlotteh@bicom.org.uk

Notes to editors:

BICOM is an independent British research centre producing analysis, insight and commentary to promote a greater understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.