Members of five Jewish organisations in the UK worked together to produce a statement condemning government plans to punish local councils and other bodies if they took procurement or investment decisions in line with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions call.
The version published by the Independent online on Wednesday was not the final, agreed wording. J-BIG’s name was missing while that of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) was erroneously included.
To put the record straight we publish here the statement as intended by the participants, representing JfJfP, J-BIG, Independent Jewish Voices, the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network and the Jewish Socialist Group.
ANTISEMITISM AND BANNING BOYCOTTS
We find it incompatible with democratic freedom, and counterproductive, that the government intends to block ethical investment and procurement decisions by public bodies lest they “poison and polarise debate and fuel antisemitism” [Boycotting of Israeli goods to be criminal offence, February 15]
Opposition to the State of Israel’s continued occupation, crimes against the Palestinian people and violation of international law, has nothing whatever to do with antisemitism. What smacks of antisemitism is to think that all Jews uncritically support Israel’s actions.
The truth is that growing numbers of Jews in this country and abroad see the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for what it is – a weapon of moral persuasion, deploying a tactic frequently used by powerless people in their opposition to racism, slavery and oppression.
History shows us boycotts against slave grown sugar in the West Indies, the movement of Irish tenant farmers against the eponymous Captain Boycott, Gandhi’s Indian boycott of British sales of salt and the global movement which helped end apartheid in South Africa.
In every case the Tories of the day opposed the boycott, siding with the oppressor against the oppressed.
If Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock goes ahead and announces the ban during a visit to Israel, claiming without a shred of evidence that “local foreign policies” are “undermining our national security”, he will demonstrate his government’s continuation of an ignoble tradition.