Simon Cobbs, founder of Sussex Friends of Israel, a United Kingdom-based pro-Israel group, told The Algemeiner on Monday that he created the petition to mock activist Asghar Bukhari, who claimed on Facebook over the weekend that the Mossad sneaked into his home and stole his shoe. Bukhari, a founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, later posted a 15-minute YouTube clip in which he doubled down on his allegations.
“They’re stealing people’s homes in Palestine,” he said. “You think a shoe is a big deal for them?”
The story made waves on social media and prompted dozens of mocking tweets with the hashtags #MossadStoleMyShoe and #ShoeishConspiracy.
“This whole ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ became so ludicrous, so stupid. This man has made a complete fool of himself that the only logical response was for us to start a petition to demand the return of his sandal,” Cobbs said. “I think the petition has been taken in the way it should be, which is really, this is so stupid, let’s have some fun at this man’s expense.”
Cobbs started the petition on Saturday and it has already garnered over 200 signatures. It calls for “the immediate and safe return” of Bukhari’s shoe, saying, “we fear that his sanity is about to be compromised unless his much prized sandal is returned immediately.”
The pro-Israel group also took to Facebook to joke at Bukhari’s expense. The organization posted a graphicdepicting a supposed Mossad agent reeling from a foul-odored shoe with the caption, “Mossad agent photographed trying to steal a shoe from a BDS member.” Another humorous post calls for Bukhari to eat a plate of foot jelly or “the next time you see your shoe it will be swimming with the gefilte fish!!”
The petition has been featured in international media including the British Telegraph and Israel’s i24 News, and Cobbs said he is “absolutely flabbergasted” by the amount of attention it has received. He told The Algemeiner that people are realizing the “ludicrousness” of Bukhari’s claim and are having fun with it.
On a more serious note, Cobbs said Israel’s supporters in the U.K. are facing “enormous problems” posed by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and a “creeping feeling” that Israel is to blame for every problem. However, he said, Bukhari’s accusation has been giving people a chance to find some humor along the way.
“The last 48 hours were absolutely what we needed and it was like a gift of God for us because it made a situation that we can then laugh at,” he said. “This whole scenario, this whole paranoia that’s happening in the U.K. at the moment, certainly among the extremist Muslims who say Israel is this and Israel is that, [Bukhari] gave us the opportunity to actually laugh for a change instead of kvetch.”
“We took the opportunity and that’s what the petition is: an opportunity to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.”