Supporters of Israel in the UK have asked advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell to “rethink” his attendance at this week’s discussion on post-sanctions trade with Iran.
The plea came in the form of a letter from the Zionist Federation and several grassroots organisations, including NILI14, Israeli Forum Task Force, Stand for Peace and UKFol (United Kingdom Friends of Israel).
It urged the long-serving boss of advertising giant WPP not to attend the inaugural Europe-Iran Forum, a two-day conference taking place 15-16 October at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The conference will bring together a range of businesses, academics and cultural figures to discuss opportunities to trade with Iran, should sanctions be lifted.
“As members of Jewish and Israeli communal organisations, we were surprised that you would lend your name to such an event,” it read.
“We also struggle to understand why you would speak of trade with one of the world’s most violent and theocratic regimes, with a long history of anti-Semitism and which does not hide its anti-Israel sentiments.”
The Board of Deputies struck a slightly different tone, saying it “acknowledged initiatives to engage Iran in pursuit of a better way forward”.
However it said Iran remained “a substantial supporter of international terrorism and has a woeful record with regard to human rights, particularly of minority groups” and urged businesses to “see this conference in conditional terms”.
A Board statement read: “So much could be possible if Iran were to completely renounce a military nuclear programme, stop funding international terrorism and end its persecution of minorities”.
Board Vice-President Alex Brummer said: “Relaxing sanctions too quickly could allow Iran to return to a path that would allow it to produce nuclear weapons – imperilling the safety of many countries in the Middle East and around the globe.
“The world must watch very carefully to ensure that there is no backsliding towards an Iranian military nuclear capability.”