Past Activities

Since releasing our founding statement in Feb 2007, JBIG has punched far above its weight given our small numbers. Our glossy leaflets and stickers bearing the slogan IT’S KOSHER TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS are very popular with Palestine solidarity activists and our banner always attracts attention. We have staged high profile public events and protests, argued the case for boycott in innumerable letters to media, authorities, trades unions and other organisations and put our message across at many meetings, pickets and rallies. Members of J-BIG have been interviewed on TV and radio and had articles and letters published in a range of media.

Here’s a summary:

February 2007

J-BIG’s first appearance as contingent on picket of Carmel Agrexco in Middlesex

Section on J-BIG in JC article on UK Jewish groups: ‘What group are you in again?’

March 2007

Drafted leaflets and helped organise football protest in front of the FA’s offices at Soho Square

Football boycott article by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi published on The Guardian’s Comment is Free.

Confronted Hilary Blume, Director of Peace Oil, at Jewish Book Week, corresponded with her & made complaint to Trading Standards.

April 2007

Article by Ruth Tenne about launch of J-BIG – “A Spearheading New Initiative” – published on Media Monitors Network and Palestine Chronicle

Letter in NUJ magazine supporting the union’s vote for boycott

J-BIG letter welcoming NUJ vote published in the Guardian and covered in the Iranian news agency IRNA

A shorter version appeared in the Jewish Chronicle

May 2007

Had stall at Palestine rally in Sheffield

Signed letter to Rolling Stones asking them not to perform in Israel

June 2007

Banner had first outing at June 9th Enough! rally

J-BIG members actively supported Freedom Kites for Enough! with JfJfP and CADFA

Published statement supporting UNISON boycott decision

Letter supporting UCU boycott decision published in JC

J-BIG mentioned in Ha’aretz

July 2007

Jointly with BRICUP, picketed rally organised by Engage to challenge the boycott movement and followed up with a joint J-BIG – BRICUP news release.

August 2007

Wrote to PM Gordon Brown protesting at his links with JNF

September 2007

Deborah Fink took part in panel debate on boycotts, hosted by the JSG

Drafted leaflets and helped organize picket of Wembley stadium for Israel-England football match

Sent letter to TUC’s Brendan Barber

October 2007

J-BIG letter supporting UCU boycott decision in Jewish Chronicle

Letter in New Statesman by Ruth Tenne promoting J-BIG

November 2007

Picket of Israel Expo, Brent Town Hall, covered in local media

December 2007

Drafted open letter challenging Peace oil as a Christmas “Good Gift”, which led to articles in the Guardian and Independent and a J-BIG letter in the Guardian Money supplement.

January 2008

Supported pickets of Downing Street over Gaza siege

February 2008

Supported picket of diamond magnate Lev Leviev in Hatton Garden

Took part in Valentines Day action at Colombia Road market

Sent letter of support to LSE SU over their boycott decision.

Sent letters to PM Brown and Royal Family challenging Windsor Castle JNF fundraiser, receiving response from Prince Phillip.

Deborah Fink took part in Nexus (Press TV programme) on peace campaigning & mentioned J-BIG

March 2008

Sent letter to Green Party in support of the BDS motion passed at their conference.

Worked with JfJfP on Bitter Herbs campaign (labeling of Settlement produce).

Deborah Fink interviewed on Salaam-Shalom radio. Talked about J-BIG

Protest at Italian Embassy against the Turin Book Fair’s invitation to Israel as the ‘Guest of honour’

April 2008

Picketed JNF dinner at Windsor Castle

Deborah Fink took part in Nexus (Press TV) programme on ethical consumerism, talking about J-BIG & boycotts

Hackney PSC/J-BIG meeting with Mark Marqusee discussing his new book with Naomi-Wimborne-Idrissi

Letter in Guardian drafted by Leon Rosselson & signed by many J-BIGgers, saying why we would not be celebrating Israel’s 60th birthday.

May 2008

Supported rally to mark 60 years since the Nakba

June 2008

Letter to Boots complaining about their plan to visit Israel and link up with more Israeli healthcare product suppliers including Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories.

Members of J-BIG took part in various protests against the Israel 60th birthday rally which led to Deborah Fink being bundled away by the police (for disrupting the parade with her singing) and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi being unlawfully arrested for street theatre. Miriam Shaviv later reported briefly on this in her JC blog.

July 2008

J-BIG letter to Lord McNally in defence of Baroness Jenny Tonge

September 2008

J-BIG letter to Paul McCartney arguing against his plan to play in Israel.

J-BIG pickets of Sainsbury’s, South Woodford and Tescos, Leytonstone, as part of the Boycott Week of Action, covered in the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian

Letter to Dance Umbrella which was hosting Israel’s Batsheva Dance company

October 2008

J-BIG took part in picket of Batsheva at Sadlers Well’s Theatre.

November 2008

J-BIG promoted and organised, with the help of others, ‘Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols for Palestine’ at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly. This was the first time that the alternative carols had been sung in a church with professional soloists leading the congregation & public figures doing alternative readings. The event received much support from Christians and considerable media coverage. CNN did a favourable report which included an interview with organiser & soprano, Deborah Fink & broadcast a few minutes of the event. Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi & Deborah talked about/sung an excerpt from the carols on radio 4. There was also positive coverage in the Church Times & West-End Extra but predictably negative coverage in the Jewish Chronicle, Daily Telegraph & Times (nothing in the left-wing media). Deborah got right of reply in The Times and Naomi complained to the Press Complaints Commission about a piece in the Daily Telegraph which was removed as a result.

December 2008 – January 2009

J-BIG took part in emergency protests for Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

January 2009

J-BIG participated in a number of demonstrations against Israel’s Gaza onslaught, resulting in some media exposure, including interview with Deborah Fink on Rumanian TV and participation in Channel 4’s TV Show.

Jewish call for BDS signed by many J-BIGgers & drafted by Tony Greenstein, published in Guardian.

Jewish counter-demo to BoD rally for Israel. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs’ speech disrupted by young Jewish man who was promptly recruited to J-BIG!

Two of us came up against the  Community Security Trust (CST) which refused us entry to a Liberal Judaism meeting on Gaza.

J-BIG among protesters who forced Israeli Colonel Geva Rapp to cancel a meeting with the Union of Jewish Students.

February 2009

J-BIG February 2009 Leaflet PDF

J-BIG took part in blockade of Carmel Agrexco.

Protest outside Kensington Town Hall which was hosting the Israeli Ambassador.

Two J-BIGgers faced hostility at meeting with the CST’s Mark Gardner, who was apparently teaching students how to lie for Israel.

March 2009

J-BIG joined BRICUP for picket of Israel Day of Science

J-BIG pickets Israeli Ahava’s Covent Garden store in the first of a series of pickets, intended to be mounted on a rota basis by different PSC branches.

Public Prosecutor dropped case against J-BIG secretary Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi for protesting at the Salute Israel Parade of June 2008.

Bloomsbury theatre cancels Zionist Federation’s ‘Israel 61’ event after receiving complaints from J-BIG and other groups that they were hosting a troupe from the IDF. The event was moved to a “secret” venue in North Finchley. Not able to get this cancelled, a picket took place outside.

The following day, J-BIG picketed the ZF party in Camden lock.

J-BIG members of JfJfP helped prepare a BDS survey of JfJfP signatories and generated debate about BDS at the AGM

May 2009

Photograph of Deborah Fink on front page of Ham & High newspaper at peaceful picket of the racist Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Protest outside David Miliband’s home in solidarity with UK medics  on hunger strike at Gaza border

J-BIG joined successful campaign for removal from the London Underground of posters which showed the Occupied Territories as part of Israel.

J-BIG in demo against police violence

June 2009

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi was part of PSC BDS committee team meeting Tesco executives for discussion about settlement goods.

July 2009

Leafleted Leonard Cohen concert in Weybridge to try to persuade him not to sing in Israel

Letter published in ‘The Voice’.

August 2009

J-BIG signs letter to Amnesty International persuading them not to act as the conduit for proceeds from Leonard Cohen’s gig in Israel. Amnesty withdraws.

Leon Rosselson sends letter to Leonard Cohen signed by folk musicians/singer-songwriters.

Protest outside Downing Street against Netanyahu meeting Gordon Brown.

September 2009

Picket of Ahava wearing mud packs & beach wear. First of many counter-productive counter pickets from the ZF which helped to put off customers from entering!

Helped to draft & collect names for letter to Clare College Choir, Cambridge, asking them not to tour Israel.

Protest in Brighton against Labour Friends of Israel Annual Reception hosting Ehud Barak, Defence Minister.

October 2009

J-BIG speaker at ‘Palestine- why should we care?’ meeting in West London.

Picket at Israeli Embassy in support of Palestinian General Strike.

Charges against Deborah Fink over the Lieberman protest in May thrown out of court. Ruling was that there was no case to answer and the police acted unlawfully in moving the protesters who had every right to use the occasion of Lieberman’s visit to show their opposition to Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.

J-BIG had constant presence in week of pickets of Tel Aviv/Easy Jet promotion events.

Protest against Lieberman’s deputy, Daniel Ayalon speaking at LSE.

J-BIG speaker, alongside BRICUP, at meeting in Brighton in support of a  student union boycott of Israeli goods.

November 2009

Waltham Forest PSC & J-BIG stage boycott action inside Waitrose, South Woodford.

J-BIG meeting with Dalit Baum of  ‘Who profits’.

December 2009

J-BIG puts on ‘Bethlehem now: Alternative lessons and songs of protest for Palestine’, at St. Paul’s, the Actors’ Church, Covent Garden. This was a similar concept to that put on the previous year, but with a slightly different title, mostly new carol parodies especially written for the occasion and including a scene from ‘Go to Gaza, drink the sea’ by Ahmed Masoud and Justin Butcher. The singing was again led by Deborah Fink and four other professional singers and Bruce Kent and Baroness Jenny Tonge were again among the readers, along with Lauren Booth and Gharda Karmi. The Zionist Federation protested outside with their Christian Zionist friends in larger numbers than in the previous year.

Ahava Day of Action wearing bath robes and face masks. J-BIG activists shown on YouTube singing alternative carols.

J-BIG joined BRICUP and Palestine Society at SOAS in getting the BBC to change an online report which alleged Zionist Federation vice-chair Jonathan Hoffmann was subjected to anti-Jewish racism at a meeting about BDS, although speakers included Ronnie Kasrils and Stephen Rose, both of whom are of Jewish origin, as was a large portion of the audience.

Protest outside Israeli Embassy in commemoration of Gaza bombing.

January 2010

Die-in in Trafalgar Square to commemorate the Gaza massacre of the previous year.

February 2010

Protest against Daniel Ayalon, Israeli Deputy Foreign minister, outside the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Temple Place.

J-BIG & BRICUP protest against the Zionist Federation (ZF) Israel Greenwash event (‘Israel & the environment’) at Institute of Education. Two members of J-BIG attend lecture & are physically ejected by the CST (Community Security Trust) at the request of the ZF for asking questions about Israel’s environmental damage to Palestine. Mark Gardner of the CST tried unsuccessfully to get BRICUP to change their news release, which was used for an article in the Jewish Chronicle. To date, the police have failed to find witnesses and prosecute the CST for assault. Campaigners had appealed to David Bellamy not to attend and claimed victory when he failed to turn up.

J-BIG writes to Nick Clegg in protest over his removal of Baroness Jenny Tonge as health spokesperson for the Lib Dems on the alleged grounds that a statement of hers had offended the Jewish community. His secretary sent a standard response which ignored the fact that we were Jewish and had stated that we as Jews were not offended by her remarks.

J-BIG picket of ZF dinner at Intercontinental Hotel. Covered by Al Jazeera and mentioned in BBC online report.

March 2010

Protest outside Chatham House which was hosting Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who had announced 1,600 new settlement units in East Jerusalem.

Members of J-BIG, Brighton PSC & ISM disrupt performance by the Jerusalem String Quartet at the Wigmore Hall, while others leaflet outside. Deborah Fink’s soprano voice could be heard briefly on Radio 3 singing ‘Jerusalem is occupied’ (words by Sue Blackwell) to the tune of ‘The Holy City’, before they were taken off the air. This was followed by four verbal disruptions.

There was much media coverage, including a broadcast of all the disruptions on Danish radio, a replay of the initial (vocal) disruption & short discussion on Radio 4 & an interview with Naomi on the World Service. Tony Greenstein  & Deborah had a long letter in the Independent in response to their 3 page article.

April 2010

Demonstration outside National History Museum against the sponsoring of their photographic exhibition by Veolia. Co-Chair of ZF unwittingly joins in our chanting!

Demonstration outside & inside new H&M store in Brixton in protest against its expansion programme in Israel.

May 2010

Vigil with JfJfP outside Hendon synagogue, protesting at their meeting with Benny Begin, right-wing minster, celebrating illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.   Report of protest. BRICUP news release. Statement signed by many organisations.

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) uphold a complaint from J-BIG & BRICUP admitting that a BBC Online report alleging anti-semitic abuse during a BDS meeting at SOAS had been wrong. The Jewish Chronicle refuse to change their report making the same allegations.

More pickets of the Jerusalem String Quartet outside the Wigmore Hall.

Protest against attack on Mavi Marmara aid flotilla in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists.

June 2010

Counter demo to ZF demo outside Israeli Embassy in support of the attack on the Mavi Marmara. ZF joined by EDL. Deborah Fink interviewed & quoted on BBC website.

March from Downing Street to Israeli Embassy in protest at attacks on flotilla.

Mike Cushman, speaking on behalf of J-BIG, addressed a 2000-strong socialist rally in Istanbul’s main square.

J-BIG & Waltham Forest PSC action inside Tescos, Leytonstone. Israeli cameraman & activists, assaulted by security guards. On Youtube.

Letter in Guardian signed by 20 J-BIGgers.

Despite the BBC apology & evidence to the contrary, JC editor Stephen Pollard refuses to change the report on the ‘anti-Semitic abuse’ at the SOAS BRICUP meeting, calling it ‘entirely accurate’, refuses to publish Naomi’s letter & ends by stating: ‘ I do not propose to enter into a correspondence with you or your contemptible organization’. Naomi submits complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

J-BIG supports Methodist church report on Israel/Palestine, supporting boycott of settlement goods and Divestment.

Members of J-BIG & others decorate with red paint “Think Israel” posters which appeared on London Underground.

August 2010

J-BIG’s Bruce Levy & three others acquitted of all charges following two direct action protests in 2009 against Israeli shop, Ahava, which sells products made in & sourced from the Settlements, closing it down for two days. Theprimary witness for the prosecution, the store manager, refused to attend court to testify despite summons & threats of an arrest warrant.

Usual demo outside Ahava. This time, the Zionist Federation & English Defence League join forces in a counter demonstration.

Complaint to BBC regarding biased Panorama programme on attack on Gaza aid flotilla published in the form of a paid advertisement in the Morning Star, New Statesman, Weekly Worker and Tribune. Signed by public figures & many J-BIGgers.

September 2010

J-BIG holds its first day conference, ‘Our role in the solidarity movement’. Panel discussion with J-BIG members Mike Marqusee (author), Prof. Moshe Machover & Prof. Haim Bresheeth & guest speaker, Antony Lerman. Dr. Sue Blackwell takes one of the workshops.

J-BIG has stall at Green Party autumn conference in Birmingham, selling Zaytoun products and distributing J-BIG’s first badges made by Bruce Levy.

Members of J-BIG & JfJfP welcome Glyn Secker of JfJfP, Captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza (‘The Irene’), who had been deported back to Heathrow airport. Photo of J-BIG banner in the JC although it had been a JfJfP initiative.

J-BIG takes part in colourful & noisy protest outside Grosvenor House Hotel which is hosting BT-sponsored ‘British Olympic Ball’ to highlight BT’s partnership with Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq International.

Footage of the J-BIG-led supermarket picket in Leytonstone in June replayed several times in Israeli TV Channel 10 documentary about the boycott campaign.

October 2010

Letter in Guardian drafted by Tony Greenstein & signed by J-BIGgers & others, asking Labour’s new leader Ed Miliband not to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by becoming a patron of the JNF (Jewish National Fund).

J-BIG helps to organise third BIN (Boycott Israel Network) conference in Margate.

Melanie Phillips & Howard Jacobson challenged at event ‘Are Jews growing ashamed of being Jewish’. Deborah Fink later interviewed by BBC World Service for programme on anti-Semitism.

November 2010

Members of J-BIG & others decorate Think Israel posters on London Underground.

JfJfP launches BDS working group which includes members of J-BIG.

Tony Greenstein participated in BBC1’s Big Questions programme, speaking as a member of J-BIG.

December 2010

J-BIG’s complaint to the PCC forces Jewish Chronicle to modify an article alleging anti-Jewish racism during a public meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies last December.

The PCC did not go as far as we would have liked but this was, nonetheless, a victory given the weakness of this organisation and JC editor Pollard’s recalcitrance at the start of the process.

Demonstration outside Israeli Embassy in commemoration of beginning of Gaza massacre of 2008-9.

January 2011

J-BIG & others picket Wigmore Hall where Israel Piano Trio are playing.

February 2011

Demonstrations in support of Egyptian uprising.

J-BIG, along with BRICUP and the Boycott Israel Network culture group, issue media release condemning Israeli government support for Arts Music of Israel conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Conference organisers drop names of Israeli sponsors from public material on the web.

Naomi interviewed on Press TV’s regular Remember Palestine magazine programme.

March 2011

J-BIG launches blog “It’s Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods”