More grassroots activism needed to counter anti-Israel bullies in UK and Europe
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has proposed new directives to combat anti-Israel boycott in the United Kingdom. Under the proposed regulations, universities, city councils, state-run health services and other government-funded public organisation will be not be allowed to discriminate against products made in Israel.
The announcement comes on the heels of a bill introduced in the US congress to combat anti-Israel boycott campaign. “The Combating BDS Act of 2016” wants to give more power to the states to act against businesses that boycot or divest from Israel.
According to the reports in British media, Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock is expected to announce the details during his trip to Israel in coming days, citing concerns that such campaigns directed towards Israel fuel antisemitism.
The London-based newspaper The Indepedent reports:
Local councils, public bodies and even some university student unions are to be banned by law from boycotting “unethical” companies, as part of a controversial crackdown being announced by the Government.
Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Any public bodies that continue to pursue boycotts will face “severe penalties”, ministers said.
Senior government sources said they were cracking down on town-hall boycotts because they “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism”.
The modern BDS Movement is inspired by what’s known as the Durban Strategy, a declaration adopted at the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban conference. The Durban campaign is itself the political successor to the Arab anti-Jewish boycott launched in 1945, three years before Israeli statehood. The NGO Forum featured numerous expressions of explicit antisemitism, falsely labeled Israel an ‘apartheid state’, absurdly accused the state of ‘genocide’ and adopted a resolution calling for the complete isolation of Israel and “the full cessation” of all international links to the country. Further, despite the false rhetoric of “peace” and “human rights” often used by BDS activists, their leaders have been clear that they in fact oppose the continued existence of a Jewish state within any borders.
What’s known today as BDS – which singles out the Jewish state, alone among the family of nations, for a coordinated campaign of boycotts, sanctions, divestment and social exclusion – was essentially born on that day.
According to British media, the “critics” on the left have opposed the new regulations by calling them a “gross attack on [their] democratic freedoms.”
The spokesman for the UK’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the government’s decision to prevent city councils and other public sector bodies from engaging in anti-Israel discrimination as “unethical” and an “attack on local democracy.”
Corbyn has a history of being the patron saint of wrong causes, including the KGB-bankrolled “anti-war” front group ‘Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’ at the height of the Cold War.
Elected as the leader of UK’s main opposition party six months ago, Corbyn has close ties to UK-based anti-Israel activist groups. During the leadership contest, Corbyn got into trouble with the media for his remarks calling Hamas and Hezbollah “friends.”
The Labour Party leader is an active practitioner of anti-Israel boycott. Under his leadership, the Labour Party severed ties with British-owned security firm G4S last November, citing company’s business links to Israel.
Nowhere in Europe is the unholy alliance between organised Left and Islamism more organised and vocal as in UK. Preventing taxpayer-funded entities from discriminating against Israel is a step in the right direction. However, the fight against this band of organized anti-Israel thugs cannot be successful without a grassroots campaign determined to fight these bullies in their own turf.
Watch: Professor Alan Dershowitz explores the motives behind anti-Israel boycott campaign [courtesy Prager University]
[Cover image courtesy Telegraph, YouTube screenshot]
[Author is an Indian Journalist based in Germany and founder of Indians For Israel, a grassroots initiative to promote India-Israel ties and counter Antisemitism in Europe]