A planned visit by Israeli diaspora affairs minister Amichai Chikli to the JW3 community centre in north London was cancelled following “internal pressure” only hours before it was due to take place on Tuesday afternoon.
Jewish News understands that the scheduled engagement, during the controversial minister’s two-day visit to the UK, was eventually called off following “internal pressure” and “long-running concerns” about Chikli’s record of making inflammatory statements promoting “vitriol” against protesters opposing Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, his record of speaking out against LGBT equality, and his spreading of conspiracy theories and anti-Palestinian rhetoric.
Protesters from the Defend Israeli Democracy UK group had also been scheduled to gather outside JW3 to show their disapproval of the Likud government minister, ahead of his scheduled 5.30pm visit.
Sources confirmed to Jewish News that bosses at JW3 had faced growing questions and “internal pressure” over the decision to allow such a divisive political figure to go ahead with a visit to the community centre.
“Internal pressure eventually led to the Chikli visit being cancelled,” confirmed one insider.
In Westminister, a parliamentary committee scrutinising the government’s anti-Israel boycott bill was informed that Chikli had been “uninvited” to JW3, a sign of the “huge concern within the Jewish community here about the ascendency of the Netanyahu government and the rise of the far-right.”
Giving evidence to the committee Yachad’s Hannah Weisfeld informed MPs:”Today, we had a (Israeli) government minister here today, and he has just been uninvited to JW3, which is the main Jewish community centre in London because of his opinions, and because of his far-right positions.
“He was due to have a tour this afternoon, but he’s been uninvited in the last five minutes.”
Chikli continued to have meetings on Tuesday with the main communal and religious organisations. Reform and LIberal representatives were among those saying they would raise serious concerns about Chikli’s own record, and that of the Netanyahu government.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters, comprising of Israeli expats and members of the community here, had gathered outside the UK Israeli embassy building in west London on Tuesday morning, holding banners expressing their anger at Chikli and his government.
Similar protests are due to take place on Wednesday at a planned Rosh Hashanah reception attended by Chikli and communal representatives.
Responding to the announcement that Jw3 had cancelled the Chikli visit, Sharon Shochet of the Defend Israeli Democracy UK group said:”We were delighted to be informed by JW3 this morning that the event had been cancelled due to pressure.
“We thank JW3 for this courageous move which we know has outraged the embassy and expect all Jewish organisations to make a similar move and stand with Israeli democracy.”
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