JLC Public Affairs Officer Gabi Kobrin reports on the recent activities of the Fair Play Campaign Group.
The Fair Play Campaign Group, a project of the JLC and Board of Deputies, works to coordinate activity against boycotts of Israel and other anti-Zionist campaigns. Fair Play has been busy fighting the battle against the assault upon Israel’s legitimacy and countering anti-Zionist activity in different arenas over the past few months. In relation to academic boycotts, Professor Stephen Hawking's withdrawal from the Israeli Presidential Conference “as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians” drew a strong response from Fair Play as misguided and unfortunate. President Shimon Peres is one of Israel’s strongest and most consistent advocates for peace through negotiation and compromise with the Palestinians, and the Israeli Presidential Conference is a venue for promoting his approach. Professor Hawking could have joined the Conference and explained his views on the conflict in the region, just as many other participants have done but by boycotting the conference, he has thrown away this opportunity. In the sporting world, Israel hosted the UEFA Under-21 European Championships this past month. Anti-Israel groups unsuccessfully appealed to UEFA to withdraw hosting rights from Israel because of perceived human rights abuses. Fair Play has been monitoring the situation for the past few months, supporting positive publicity for the tournament and encouraging people to write to the England team and wish them luck in Israel. On the economic front, the Boycott Israel Network has made Sainsbury’s supermarket the focus of its upcoming campaigning activity, to include protests at local branches and a planned major protest at the Sainsbury AGM on 10th July. Fair Play has successfully brought together a plethora of organisations that are involved in countering anti-Zionist activity and produced effective strategies to deal with all of the above cases.