Battling the boycott
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