Javid launches blis­ter­ing at­tack on boy­cotters

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

BRI­TAIN WILL cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion with pride, a se­nior gov­ern­ment min­is­ter has told a group of Jewish lead­ers from around the world.

Sajid Javid, Sec­re­tary of State for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, said the gov­ern­ment would al­ways stand up for the Jewish com­mu­nity, and pledged on­go­ing sup­port for Is­rael.

“Some­one said we should apol­o­gise for the Dec­la­ra­tion, to say it was an er­ror of judg­ment. Of course that’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

“To apol­o­gise for the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion would be to apol­o­gise for the ex­is­tence of Is­rael and to ques­tion its right to ex­ist.”

Mr Javid added: “Here in Bri­tain we will not merely mark the cen­te­nary, we will cel­e­brate it with pride.”

He was speak­ing at a gath­er­ing of the World Jewish Congress ahead of the an­niver­sary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion later this year.

In a blis­ter­ing at­tack on those who pro­mote a boy­cott of Is­rael, Mr Javid said: “I’ll be 100 per cent clear. I do not sup­port calls for a boy­cott, my party does not sup­port calls for a boy­cott. For all its blus­ter, the BDS cam­paign is most no­table I think, for its lack of suc­cess.

“Trade is boom­ing, tourism is soar­ing. The me­dia cam­paign is full of sound and fury but to the ma­jor­ity of Bri­tain to­day it sig­ni­fies noth­ing.

“As long as I’m in gov­ern­ment, as long as I’m in pol­i­tics, I will do every­thing in my power to fight back against those who seek to un­der­mine Is­rael.”

Out­lin­ing mea­sures taken by the gov­ern­ment in re­cent years, he high­lighted ef­forts to counter aca­demic boy­cotts, and to stop lo­cal author­i­ties “run­ning their own mini for­eign poli­cies, di­vid­ing the com­mu­ni­ties that they seek to serve”.

The West­min­ster event, Bal­four, Bias and Boy­cotts, was or­gan­ised by the Board of Deputies, WJC and the All-Party Par­lia­men­tary Group on Bri­tish Jews.

Mr Javid said ris­ing an­ti­semitism in Bri­tain was “deeply dis­turb­ing” and he was per­son­ally com­mit­ted to deal­ing with it.

“Let’s be hon­est, we are talk­ing about an­ti­semites, how­ever many times they claim they are op­posed to Zion­ism,” he said.

Ron­ald Lauder, pres­i­dent of the WJC, said the global Jewish com­mu­nity “trea­sured” Mr Javid as a staunch friend of the Jewish peo­ple.

Jonathan Arkush, Board pres­i­dent, told the group of around two dozen del­e­gates from coun­tries in­clud­ing Rus­sia, France, Is­rael and the United States about is­sues af­fect­ing Bri­tish Jews.

The im­por­tance of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion was not that it had “given” Jews the right to a na­tional home­land, Mark Regev, the Is­raeli am­bas­sador to Bri­tain, said, but that it had “recog­nised” that right in 1917.

“For that we should cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion,” Mr Regev said. “For some peo­ple the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion is not some­thing to cel­e­brate. The Pales­tinian prime min­is­ter called for Bri­tain to apol­o­gise for the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion, and the Pales­tinian for­eign sec­re­tary put out a state­ment where he said he wants to take Bri­tain to the in­ter­na­tional court if it doesn’t apol­o­gise.

“The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has not ac­cepted that opin­ion, and that is why they have in­vited my prime min­is­ter to come here to mark the cen­te­nary. Theresa May has said Bri­tain is proud of the role it played in help­ing Is­rael to be recre­ated as a state.

“That is the cor­rect po­si­tion. Bri­tain did the right thing [in is­su­ing the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion], and it can be proud of that.”

Wes Street­ing, co-chair of the All­Party group, said the ef­forts of the boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions move­ment were “counter-pro­duc­tive” to the search for peace be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans, and said he did not be­lieve that was its in­ten­tion. In­stead, he said, the BDS cam­paign was part of the de­mon­i­sa­tion and dele­git­imi­sa­tion of Is­rael.

Mr Street­ing, a Labour MP, told the del­e­gates he was proud of the con­tri­bu­tion made by his Jewish con­stituents and the “vi­brant” Jewish com­mu­nity in Il­ford North. Yvette Cooper, Labour’s for­mer Shadow Home Sec­re­tary who now chairs the Com­mons’ Home Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee, out­lined what she said was the “hugely im­por­tant” joint work be­ing done by Jewish and Mus­lim groups to chal­lenge hate crime, whether it was an­ti­semitism or Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

She re­peated pre­vi­ous calls for so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies to do more to chal­lenge and re­move racist abuse on their plat­forms.

Mr Lauder said the Board had put on a “sen­sa­tional, spec­tac­u­lar” event.

The BDS cam­paign is most no­table for its lack of suc­cess’


Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary Sajid Javid

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