The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JC RE­PORTER

Lon­don mayor Boris John­son was vis­i­bly over­come dur­ing a visit to Yad Vashem Holo­caust mu­seum in Jerusalem this week

MOST OF Boris John­son’s tour of the West Bank — the fi­nal leg of his visit to the re­gion — was can­celled on Wed­nes­day, owing to con­cerns that Pales­tinian anger over his crit­i­cism of the boy­cott move­ment could evolve into a se­cu­rity risk.

In his Win­ston Churchill me­mo­rial speech on Tues­day night, Mr John­son had dis­missed BDS lead­ers as “ridicu­lous, snag­gle-toothed cor­duroy­wear­ing lefty aca­demics”. Those who en­dorsed it were “fool­ish” and in a “very small mi­nor­ity”, he said.

Shortly af­ter the speech it emerged that the Pales­tine Busi­ness Women’s Fo­rum — which Mr John­son was due to meet the fol­low­ing day, along with jour­nal­ists — would not al­low JC re­porter Noga Tarnopol­sky into the meet­ing be­cause she was an Is­raeli.

Mr John­son had said he was “ex­as­per­ated” by the ban, and later told Ms Tarnopol­sky: “It’s very sad that you can’t come in. Ob­vi­ously if we get in I will be rais­ing it.”

Is­raeli se­cu­rity ser­vices ad­vised Mr John­son to can­cel most of his West Bank ap­point­ments af­ter they ob­served ris­ing anger and threats of protests among Pales­tinian so­cial me­dia users.

Other jour­nal­ists on the tour with Mr John­son ex­pressed out­rage over the ban on Ms Tarnopol­sky. Tim Ship­man, the po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor of the Sun­day Times, who was also on the trip, said: “As far as I’m con­cerned, jour­nal­ists are cit­i­zens of the world and to pre­vent any re­porter from do­ing their job in an im­par­tial and in­de­pen­dent fash­ion, what­ever their na­tion­al­ity, is ab­surd.”

The only event to sur­vive the can­cel­la­tions was Mr John­son’s meet­ing with Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Rami Ham­dal­lah, who banned all jour­nal­ists from at­tend­ing.

Ms Tarnopol­sky said: “It was, among other things, a lost op­por­tu­nity for sev­eral EU and UN-sup­ported ini­tia­tives to gain the public­ity af­forded by the mayor’s me­dia en­tourage.”

Com­ing as the EU an­nounced guide­lines on la­belling prod­ucts made in

the set­tle­ments, Mr John­son’s strong anti-boy­cott stance was wel­comed by Is­raelis.

One woman, who moved to Is­rael from Lon­don and at­tended the in­au­gu­ral Win­ston Churchill ad­dress de­liv­ered by Mr John­son in Jerusalem, ex­pressed her “huge grat­i­tude” to the mayor for com­ing to Is­rael when its cit­i­zens feel so be­lea­guered.

Is­raeli news out­lets pointed out that the Pales­tine Busi­ness Women’s Fo­rum, which boy­cotted the JC’s re­porter, re­ceives fund­ing from the EU and the UN. Will Walden, the mayor’s of­fi­cial spokesman, said that Mr John­son was “dis­ap­pointed but prag­matic” about his de­railed Ra­mal­lah sched­ule, and late in the day his of­fice had is­sued a state­ment say­ing that “he recog­nises the ex­treme diff i c ul ti e s e x pe­ri­enced by the Pales­tini­ans liv­ing un­der oc­cu­pa­tion”.


Noga Tarnopol­sky

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