Bat­tling the boy­cott

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JONATHAN NEU­MANN Jonathan Neu­mann is di­rec­tor of Jewish Hu­man Rights Watch

BOY­COTTING JEWS is not a new idea. It’s been around for cen­turies. To­day it’s called Boy­cott Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS).

When BDS sup­port­ers try to jus­tify their hate, don’t be fooled. There are al­ways ex­cuses. Once, Jews were boy­cotted be­cause they al­legedly killed Chris­tian chil­dren; now it’s Arab chil­dren. Pre­vi­ously, it was be­cause Jews were sup­pos­edly racially in­fe­rior; now it’s be­cause they ap­par­ently think them­selves racially su­pe­rior.

Don’t be fooled. BDS is noth­ing new. It is the old­est ha­tred.

We’re see­ing it in our lo­cal coun­cils, in char­i­ties, in our trade unions and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions, and in our univer­si­ties. And wher­ever there is BDS, in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment of Jews quickly fol­lows.

For­tu­nately, Jews in the UK over­whelm­ingly recog­nise BDS as an­tisemitic. And it is a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of the ris­ing an­ti­semitism we’ve wit­nessed over the past year.

That is why Jewish Hu­man Rights Watch (JHRW) was launched at the end of last year by a group of Jews and non-Jews — to com­bat this BDS hate.

In the short time since then, we’ve sub­mit­ted an of­fi­cial com­plaint to the Char­ity Com­mis­sion about War on Want, one of the big­gest pur­vey­ors of BDS in the coun­try, and we have re­quested a ju­di­cial re­view of BDS mo­tions by Le­ices­ter City Coun­cil and two coun­cils in Wales. We are look­ing at sev­eral in Scot­land too.

In re­ponse to these and other ef­forts, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced last week that it would be ban­ning lo­cal coun­cils from sup­port­ing BDS al­to­gether, a move we and other or­gan­i­sa­tions strongly ap­plaud.

Ev­i­dently, Con­ser­va­tive pledges prior to the elec­tion to pro­tect our com­mu­nity from vi­o­lence and hate were not empty, and we call on the op­po­si­tion par­ties to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to this end.

Pre­dictably, War on Want was among the first to con­demn the gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment. This is a good sign. BDS is now on the back foot in the UK, where it has been al­lowed to thrive for too long.

BDS is part of the rad­i­cal and ex­trem­ist fringe of Bri­tish pol­i­tics and has no place in a so­ci­ety like ours that val­ues tol­er­ance and di­ver­sity and the pro­tec­tion of mi­nori­ties. We should have no time for this sort of racism or any other, which are bar­ri­ers to co­ex­is­tence.

This week we read in the To­rah the story of Noah, who lived in a world con­sumed by ha­mas, the Bi­ble’s word for the most de­spi­ca­ble vi­o­lence and in­jus­tice.

Noah’s ark shel­tered those who sought to build a so­ci­ety based in­stead on jus­tice and de­cency, a so­ci­ety in which man could co­ex­ist in peace with his fel­low man.

The gov­ern­ment’s move against BDS brings us a step closer to build­ing just such a so­ci­ety, where com­mu­ni­ties can live in har­mony with one another, rather than in fear of in­tim­i­da­tion, ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence.

Our fight against BDS is far from over, and we in­vite ev­ery Bri­ton — Jewish and not — who op­poses racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion to join us.

There must be zero tol­er­ance for BDS hate, and with the gov­ern­ment declar­ing BDS to be be­yond the pale, we now have a pow­er­ful ally in the form of Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron.


Boy­cotters out­side the Is­rae­liowned Sabon store in Lon­don

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