By Mandy Blumenthal, who is a joint Israeli/ British citizen who is very active in ‘West Midlands friends of Israel’ and ‘Campaign against Aniti-Semitism.’
We always ask ourselves the question; is it really worth writing a letter?
We are asked so often to write to our MP’s, institutions, newspapers and social media platforms.
Often the words with which to express ourselves, seem to escape us. There never seems enough time in the day.
So many of us don’t do it.
In theory, we think, “we can make a difference, this is a good idea”, yet in practice, we lack the conviction that we can, I want to share with you here the true story of how letter writing did achieve a wonderful success and made a massive difference to the anti-Israel landscape with which we have become so familiar here in the UK.
A large Labour group of Dudley Councillors proposed a motion for the Council to boycott Israeli products and services .
If accepted this would have meant, as shocking as this sounds, that a local council in Britain would join BDS ( boycott divestment and sanctions), an organisation that brings terror to the streets of Britain.
As many of you are aware, this would not be the first local council being asked to go along with this action.
Initially, when Brighton Council attempted this course of action, the grassroots group, Sussex Friends of Israel, discovered that councils by law have a duty to ensure community cohesion. Although Dudley is located in the West Midlands, there are only a few Jewish residents.
To this end, the advice given by UK Lawyers for Israel was to seek out and request Jewish residents of the West Midlands to write to the council expressing that passing this motion would cause divisions, erode community relations and further increase anti-Semitism. .
Responding to a local issue, the West Midlands Jewish community and West Midlands Friends of Israel contacted their members and asked them to register their concerns with the Council, whilst members of those organisations resident in Dudley, were asked to contact their councillors to ask them to oppose the motion.
There was a tremendous reaction. Busy people, those both involved and those not so not familiar with community matters wrote in en masse as did community leaders and organisations.
However, the strength was the law regarding community relations and the residents’ views and wishes, not those of the organisations. There was also a positive reaction from many councillors who responded saying that they would be opposing the motion.
The fantastic result was that the vote on 1st December was stopped.This is as a direct consequence of our individual actions working together as a community to elicit change.
The letter writing proved that the Council knew that enough people were against this motion, and had strong feelings of upset, anger and hurt by the intended aim of this motion, the intention of which was to create divisions, rifts and splits within the community.
As such, this provides a wonderful example that individuals working together can create desired change.
Individuals can make a difference and individual actions help alter the anti-Israel landscape currently so prolific in the UK.
We must simply become used to the fact that there just isn’t anyone else to do this except ourselves.
We must take direct action where we can at an individual level instead of relying on organisations to lobby for change.
So a huge thank you to all the Residents of the West Midlands who took the time, effort and used their energy to write in to Dudley Council and stop the BDS movement from claiming another boycott of Israeli goods!