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UK Rabbis Oppose Big Tent For Israel

Nov. 28, 2011

In Manchester, UK on November 27, 2011, a conference was held called Big Tent for Israel, with the attendance of over 700 people. It was organized by Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Whitefield Synagogue in North Manchester.

Guttentag said the aim of the conference was “to make the Big Tent a massive springboard to mobilize many more grassroots activists who are willing to take on the challenge of reversing the trend of delegitimization of Israel and to ensure Israel’s image is honestly and positively projected to the many people who have been exposed to anti-Israel propaganda and media bias.”

His inspiration was a report published last year by the Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute, titled “Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy." The report referred to London as the “Mecca of delegitimization."

Guttentag's movement was denounced, however, by 26 UK rabbis in a statement on the same day as the conference. The statement read: "It is obvious to all right-minded people that these and similar actions will lead to increased anti-Semitism, Heaven forbid. It is unnecessary to elaborate on the dangers involved. Therefore, it is incumbent on all to refrain from involvement in these actions. We must do all within our power to publicise that these events in no way represent Torah-true Jews who remain loyal to G-d and His holy Torah. Heaven forbid to allow this dangerous precedent entry to England - a country where thank G-d we have a wonderful and friendly government (may G-d bless them). The Torah obligates us to pray for the welfare of our host state. In the merit that we accept out divinely-ordained exile, and live in peace and harmony with all nations, may be merit to be saved from all sorrow and to the speedy coming of the Messiah."

The above statement was signed by:

Rabbi Elchonon Heilprin of Radomishlau
Rabbi Eliezer Dovid Friedman of Belz
Rabbi Elyakim Schlessinger of Yeshiva Haramah
Rabbi Sholom Friedman, member of the Rabbinical Court of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations
Rabbi Yosef Padwa, member of the Rabbinical Court of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations
Rabbi Yisroel Gukovitzky, rabbi in London
Rabbi Aryeh Weiss of Vizhnitz
Rabbi Zev Feldman of Torah Etz Chaim
Rabbi Yosef Binyamin Wosner of Satmar
Rabbi Ben Zion Blum of Bobov
Rabbi Tzvi Nechemiah Schneck of Skver
Rabbi David Hager of Vizhnitz
Rabbi Naftali Elimelech Leizer of Pshevorsk
Rabbi Shmaya Lev of Satmar
Rabbi Avraham Yosef Rubinfeld of Khal Chareidim
Rabibi Yechezkel Shraga Friezel of Skver
Rabbi Moshe Pollack of Satmar
Rabbi Yaakov Marmorstein of Ohel Moshe
Rabbi Eliezer Mordechai Stolzberg of Satmar
Rabbi Moshe Yitzchok Luntzer of Mesivta
Rabbi Meir Markowitz of Divrei Shlomo
Rabbi Lipa Braun of Nitra
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim Padwa, chief rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations
Rabbi Avraham Silbiger of Beis Medrash Chodosh of Manchester
Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Horowitz of Satmar, Manchester
Rabbi Mordechai Mehler of Satmar, Manchester