The Jewish Community Centre London has reportedly uninvited Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli due to “internal pressure” from the local Jewish community.
Chikli was slated to visit the center, also known as JW3, on Tuesday during a two-day trip this week to the United Kingdom. Also on Tuesday, leftist activists with Israeli and pride flags yelled at the minister as he sought to enter the London offices of the Jewish Agency with heavy police protection.
The minister, whom critics accuse of anti-gay and anti-Palestinian statements, said he “did not feel any boycott” for much of his U.K. trip, and he told The Jewish Chronicle, “I am always happy to see people gather together to wave Israeli flags.”
He has so far met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews—the nearly 265-year-old representative Jewish body—and with the Union of Jewish Students and the Jewish Leadership Council. He also spent time with more than 100 rabbis from across the country, he told the Chronicle.
Several of the leaders Chikli saw told the London paper that the conversation was frank. Board of Deputies representatives told the Chronicle that they discussed judicial reform; pressures faced by the Israeli LGBT community; the rights of Reform Jews in Israel; and issues facing Arab citizens of Israel.
The Union of Jewish Students head “challenged the minister with Jewish student concerns regarding his prior statements and the future of Israel’s democracy.” The leaders of the Movement for Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism said their “meeting was frank and not always comfortable.”
The Jewish center’s decision to disinvite Chikli was attributed to “long-running concerns” about his controversial stances, the British Jewish News reported.
“Shame that JW3 seems to have caved to pressure to cancel Minister Chikli’s talk,” wrote Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum. “This would have been an excellent opportunity for the community to engage with him, even pose some difficult questions, but alas, they have chosen to turn their backs.”
Chikli faced protests and a canceled meeting on a recent trip to the United States.