A London presentation by an Israeli settler group accused of using lawfare to oppose Bedouin villages has been postponed.
A senior figure from Regavim, which some British Jewish groups have accused of “Jewish extremism,” had been invited to the UK by the charitable arm of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) and was due to give a talk on Sunday.
However, in a statement on Tuesday, UKLFI said Naomi Linder Kahn would no longer be speaking because the event “has been postponed, so that proper security measures can be put into place,” adding: “A consortium of BDS activists and anti-Israel groups planned a mass demonstration.”
Among the groups planning to protest Regavim’s presentation were Stop the Demolitions and International Solidarity Movement.
Regavim files lawsuits to block or destroy “illegal” buildings, which mainly affects Bedouin and Palestinian families. It laments the “hostile takeover of [West Bank] territory” by Palestinians, and its mission is “to protect Jewish lands and natural resources and to prevent an alien takeover”.
In recent months it has petitioned the courts to demolish villages in or near the strategic land corridor E1, as well as Susiya, which is in the southern part of the West Bank, which last year prompted Jewish students in 15 British universities to protest to then Middle East Minister Alistair Burt.
This year Regavim opposed requests to delay the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank then petitioned the courts to order the Israeli Government to justify its decision, despite even Israel’s most supportive MPs such as Theresa May and former Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan urging the bulldozers off.
This week UKLFI said there had been “some misinformed and misdirected criticism” and said its charitable trust “aims to advance legal education in national and international political, social and economic policy” regarding Israel.
“In pursuit of this we arrange speaker meetings on a range of issues, and with a range of views. UKLFI Charitable Trust is not aligned with any particular political viewpoint or party in the UK or Israel [and] does not endorse and abhors any form of homophobia and racism.”
Defending Regavim, UKLFI said: “Most of the objections… related not to the invited speaker nor to the content of the talk but to views on other matters reportedly expressed by a co-founder of Regavim, who no longer works there.”
British Zionist group Yachad said it was “glad to see the event is now postponed… We welcome UKLFI’s decision after listening to the community’s concerns, and invite them to think again about offering a platform to Regavim.”
Meir Deutsch, director-general of Regavim, said: “The threats surrounding our lecture represent a whole new level of cooperation between extreme leftist organisations operating in Israel and abroad with Palestinian organisations that act to silence dissenting opinions and competing narratives.”
He added: “Regavim is gratified by the outrage expressed by donors and supporters who were notified of the event’s postponement, and we have begun to schedule meetings with individuals and groups who are interested in learning the facts.”