One of the first bills to be introduced by Britain’s new Conservative government will reportedly stop “local authorities from boycotting individual companies”, a move described as targeting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Conservative Party election manifesto did indeed pledge to “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries”, on the grounds that such moves “undermine community cohesion”. Read more
Back in August, I received an invitation from an organisation called Solutions Not Sides (SNS) to be a speaker at their Student Leadership Programme event in London in early September. After some research, I declined the invitation – and I want to explain why in a public forum. Read more
The frenzied debate over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of anti-Semitism – or more precisely, definition and illustrative examples – has centred on whether the document restricts criticism of the state of Israel and delegitimises solidarity with the Palestinians. Read more
Pro-Israel groups in Britain are facing resistance in their attempts to use a controversial definition of anti-Semitism to stifle Palestine solidarity activism. Concerns over free speech are being heeded by universities and local authorities, in what is a boost for Palestine rights activists currently holding, or preparing to hold, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events on campuses nationwide. Read more
Earlier this week, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) cancelled an event planned as part of “Israeli Apartheid Week”, on the grounds that it “contravenes” a controversial definition of anti-Semitism recently endorsed by the UK government.
The panel event, “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS”, was organised by the UCLan Friends of Palestine society. I was one of the speakers scheduled to speak.
There are three particularly disturbing aspects to this decision by the UCLan authorities. Read more
The latest revelations to emerge from the Al Jazeera investigation into the work of the Israeli embassy in London and pro-Israel lobby groups in Britain are a reminder of an issue that once dominated the headlines: the Labour Party’s so-called “anti-Semitism crisis”.
Like Israeli embassy official Shai Masot being caught on camera seeking to “take down” British politicians, the fact that Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) director MP Joan Ryan is shown to have misrepresented and smeared a pro-Palestinian party member is instructive, but not a shock. Read more
The warm congratulations extended by Israeli politicians to Donald Trump after his election victory was unsurprising. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is a coalition of right-to-far-right parties, including ministers with a penchant for authoritarian, nationalist legislation, and anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic rhetoric. Read more
This month marks the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and the beginning in earnest of preparations for next year’s centenary.
Israel and its supporters are gearing up for a celebration of what they see as an historic document that underpins the state’s legitimacy. Palestinians and their allies, meanwhile, are seeking an apology from Britain for an injustice whose impact is still felt today. Read more
By now, it is clear that the UK Labour Party’s so-called “crisis” of anti-Semitism is being used to delegitimise anti-Zionism by groups and individuals who see the two as one and the same thing. It is that conflation I want to address, and specifically, how it is only possible through the dehumanisation and disappearance of the Palestinians. Read more
Earlier this year, I took a look at a booklet by the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) called ‘The Apartheid Smear’, authored by staffer Alan Johnson. Intended as a “vital tool” for fighting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the publication is full of errors and omissions; for example, it doesn’t mention the illegality of Israeli settlements even once.
I am returning to BICOM and Alan Johnson, following the latter’s interventions in recent debates on BDS and antisemitism. Johnson presents himself as a leftist when arguing Israel’s corner, especially in contexts where Israeli apartheid gets short shrift (e.g. campuses). He also tends to repeat the same points again and again – so here is the BICOM guide to defending Netanyahu’s Israel. Read more