OPINION: Why writing to your MP DOES matter

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OPINION: Why writing to your MP DOES matter

If they don’t hear anything from supporters of Israel, they will assume we don’t exist, writes Luke Akehurst

Pic: We Believe in Israel
Pic: We Believe in Israel

Why bother sending a pro-Israel campaign email to your MP?

It’s simple really.

Because anti-Israel campaigners send thousands of emails to MPs. Some of their campaigns hit totals of over 100,000 emails, with individual MPs in particular constituencies receiving over 1,000 each.

That can mean MPs feel politically intimidated into taking a more anti-Israel stance – they need to get re-elected and have to listen to public opinion. If they don’t hear anything from supporters of Israel, they will assume we don’t exist.

Grassroots activity such as email campaigns and demonstrations makes decision-makers think they are operating in an overwhelmingly anti-Israel climate. Polls show this is not the reality – support for Israel and the Palestinians is evenly balanced in the UK but the pro-Israel side sometimes isn’t as vocal.

Luke Akehurst

Before WBII existed and organised pro-Israel email campaigns, even MPs in heavily Jewish constituencies complained that their mailbag was dominated by anti-Israel correspondence.

Senior diplomats have told us the postbag to the Foreign Office via MPs helps determine the limits of UK policy towards Israel. Ministers don’t think they can move too far beyond what they perceive public opinion to be, and they measure it based on emails received.

We are often very good at thinking of reasons not to bother. Some common myths include:

There’s no point writing to my MP, he/she is hostile. False. It’s always worth putting pressure on them. Let them see that an outspoken anti-Israel line might cost them votes and deny them the chance to say their constituents unanimously back them.

Alternatively, no point writing to my MP, he/she supports us anyway. False again. Pro-Israel MPs face pressure from the other side, possibly even within their own party. If they can cite letters of support, it strengthens their hand. It’s important to let them know they have support among their constituents. And thank them. MPs, believe it or not, are human. We all like to be thanked and appreciated, and MPs are no exception.

There’s no point writing, they never listen anyway. Again, false. MPs want to know what their constituents think because they want to get re-elected. We know that email campaigns have shifted parliamentary opinion.

Surely MPs ignore mass email campaigns? No – they aren’t interested in the detailed arguments in each letter, they are measuring how many emails they get on each side to help gauge the views of their electorate.

The other side swamps MPs with emails putting the anti-Israel case. If we don’t make our voices heard, politicians will conclude that those are the only voices there are.

It takes literally seconds to email your MP. To use WBII’s campaign website, click here.

Please email them now.

  • Luke Akehurst, Director, We Believe in Israel
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