London-based UK-Israel think tank BICOM is to significantly scale back its work for financial reasons as it announced the sudden departure of chief executive James Sorene.
Sorene, who advised Nick Clegg while the former Lib Dem leader was deputy prime minister, has left BICOM with immediate effect, as its chairman said the organisation would be “resized” owing to the economic downturn.
During his time in charge, Sorene was a go-to source for analysis on Israel for national media and enhanced the organisation’s standing among government and top journalists – several of whom took to Twitter to hail his impact.
He is tipped by some to become the next chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council.
He told Jewish News: “It’s been an immense honour and great privilege to lead BICOM and I pay tribute to the brilliant BICOM team for their hard work and expertise. My deep fascination for all things Israel and Middle East related meant I enjoyed every day in this job.”
The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, or BICOM, was set up as a not-for-profit company by the Finnish-born British billionaire Poju Zabludowicz in 2002, a primary objective being to air the case for Israel in the media.
Zabludowicz’s tenure as director ended in March 2019 and, last October, the organisation posted warnings about its financial health to Companies House, revealing net liabilities of more than £600,000.
“The company is dependent upon the ongoing support of a few of its major donors… which has not been formally pledged,” directors said on 31 October 2019. “These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
BICOM chair Edward Misrahi said: “In recognition of the situation we are obviously reviewing the operation. It is going to be scaled down, the extent and degree [to which] is being discussed.” He added: “There is still significant support for the effort to make sure that the case of Israel is properly discussed.”