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Businessman Defuses Anti-Israel Protest in London

A quick-thinking Israeli businessman talked a London anti-Israel group into leaving an Israeli real estate show alone.
By David Lev
First Publish: 6/30/2011, 3:59 PM / Last Update: 6/30/2011, 9:41 PM

It's not just IDF officers and Israeli government officials who are targets of anti-Israel mobs when they speak in London. Israeli businesspeople are now apparently also on the firing line.

Earlier this week, an anti-Israel mob stormed a show in London, where Israeli real estate officials were promoting investments in Israel. But they met their match when a quick-thinking businessman defused the situation.

The event, which had been advertised in local media, took place at a Marriott hotel in London, where several Israeli representatives made presentations. Anti-Israel activists apparently read about it and arrived at the event carrying PLO flags and signs condemning Israel. The mob tried to storm the meeting, but was kept back by guards.

Shlomo Grofman, head of Israel's Faire Fund (First American Israeli Real Estate Fund) real estate investment firm, decided to go outside and conduct a dialogue with the group. Speaking to an Israeli business reporter, Grofman said that he didn't fear for his safety when he confronted the group.

“I believe that discussion is the best way to deal with situations like this, so I engaged them in dialogue. They presented their usual arguments, and I countered with my point of view.” Grofman said that after about a half hour, the group decided to end the demonstration, and left the site peacefully.

Grofman said that he felt good about his contribution to Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy -- Ed]. “Perhaps they should include real estate folks as part of the groups that travel around presenting Israel's point of view, and not just have us speak about property investment opportunities,” he said.