The Zionist Federation of Great Britain has cancelled a scheduled appearance by Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein, after he reportedly likened Israel to apartheid South Africa during a UN conference in Brussels on Thursday.
According to a UN report,
Rubinstein said that "Israel today was an apartheid State with four different Palestinian groups: those in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians, each of which had a different status."
The report quoted Rubinstein as condemning the security fence, saying that "even if the wall followed strictly the line of the pre-1967 border, it would still not be justified. The two peoples needed cooperation rather than walls because they must be neighbors."
On Friday, the Zionist Federation released a press release, saying "Rubinstein's participation in this weekend's Zionist Federation conference in London has been cancelled by mutual agreement."
"The ZF regularly holds meetings where a wide variety of views are expressed, and while there is no question that Rubinstein has every right to express his views about Israel, it was mutually agreed that his participation in the Zionist Federation conference became untenable," the statement said.
Andrew Balcombe, Chairman of the ZF, said: "Criticism of Israeli policy is acceptable. However, by using the word 'apartheid' in a UN conference held at the European Parliament, Danny Rubinstein encourages the demonisation of Israel and the Jewish people. I believe he was naïve to attend the UN conference."
Ynetnews was unable to reach Rubinstein for comment.
Adam Mouchtar, Director of Bnei Brith's European Union Affairs Office, attended the conference, and said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Rubinstein's comments.
Earlier, he told Ynetnews: "This is a conference of Israel-haters," adding that delegates were clearly guided by a single agenda: "To prove that Israel is a racist apartheid state, and therefore Israel should be boycotted internationally, as South Africa was."
Rubinstein was also slammed for his comments by the Geneva-based UN Watch organization, headed by Hillel Neuer, which said in a statement, "That a leading Israeli journalist - presented by the UN as a member of the Haaretz editorial board - would participate and grant legitimacy to a Soviet-era enterprise born out of the 'Zionism is Racism' canard, whose sole aim is to assault Israel morally, legally and financially, was disturbing enough. But that he would full-throatedly join the jackals, calling Israel an 'apartheid state,' is a scandal."