'Political' youth group criticised
From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)
Brian Whitaker | The Guardian | 6 August 2004
A Jewish youth organisation has asked to be removed from the register of charities after complaints that it backed Robert Kilroy-Silk’s views on Arabs.
Brit Trumpeldor of Great Britain – known as Betar – was registered 20 years ago “to educate Jewish youth in good citizenship and the values of the Jewish heritage and tradition”.
But yesterday the Charity Commission reported that its activities “appeared to be in furtherance of a political purpose rather than the charitable purpose stated”.
This year emails circulated in Betar’s name included copies of the Sunday Express column, “We owe Arabs nothing”, that cost Mr Kilroy-Silk his job as host of a BBC talkshow. The emails said his “excellent” article “spoke the truth”.
Jewish peace activists have also accused Betar supporters of harassment. The charity notified its members of an “unacceptable” demonstration planned by Jews for Justice for Palestinians in Golders Green, saying, “We will be there to stop them going ANYWHERE!!!” It also circulated the phone numbers of the “sick” demo’s organisers.
Shimon Shamila, Betar’s director, said yesterday that the commission’s inquiry resulted from complaints by Muslim groups “trying to delegitimise Jewish charities”.
Mr Shamila accepted that Betar had circulated the Kilroy-Silk article but said any comments attached to the article were not official.
A commission spokesman said: “Charities can’t simply be removed at their own request – there has to be a proper process.”