'Britain Has Muslim Supporters of Israel'

Head of the British Israel Coalition speaks about the group's response to protesters who tried to stop a performance by Israeli actors.

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Elad Benari,

bima theater, Tel Aviv
bima theater, Tel Aviv
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Ari Soffer, Director of the British Israel Coalition, told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday about what his organization did in response to anti-Israeli protesters who tried to stop a performance by Israel's HaBima theater company before a packed Globe Theater in London Monday night.

About 15 anti-Israel protesters were removed during the performance after they unfurled banners and PLO flags.

Ten minutes into the show, protesters unfurled PLO flags and a banner reading "Israel apartheid leave the stage" from the first-floor balcony. More banners and flags were unfurled on two more occasions before the intermission.

According to Soffer, the protesters were “haters of Israel and extreme anti-Semites. We know most of them and we knew they would come to the theater. They spread lies about Israel and there are both Arabs and leftists among them. Yesterday they held a demonstration both outside and inside the hall.”

He added that the coalition held a counter-protest, saying, “We had a demonstration of our own outside the theater and waved Israeli flags. They are very extreme and some are anti-Semitic, so it was important for us to counter-protest. We followed a few of them into the theater and watched them. When they began to riot, we called the ushers to remove them from the theater, and we plan to do the same at this evening’s performance.”

Soffer noted that the British Israel Coalition includes both Jews and non-Jews, and even Muslim supporters of Israel.

“You will not believe it, but there are Muslims who support Israel in our group, as well as Christians and of course Jews,” he said. “Our goal is to convey the message that the problem of radical Islam is not just a problem of Israelis but is a global problem. Terrorism is global.”

The British Israeli Coalition holds pro-Israeli activities throughout the year, Soffer said, adding that he believes that British Jews should support Israel as much as possible.

“We all love Israel and want to do things for the country,” he said. “We try to be as effective as possible and expose those people who operate against Israel. These are very extreme people who try to portray themselves as liberals. We do not care who the people who come from Israel are, it could be Tzipi Livni or Avigdor Lieberman or the actors from the Habima theater company. As long as we are abroad, we have no right to interfere in Israeli politics and what matters to us the most is the support for Israel. After we make aliyah we’ll have the right to intervene in Israeli politics.”

Last week, hundreds of pro-Israel activists and local residents rallied behind Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as he addressed the Jewish National Fund in Hendon, UK.

The counter-protest by British Israel Coalition began as Israel activists challenged anti-Israel and Islamist groups protesting Lieberman's presence.