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
Israel has defeated the BDS movement, declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. According to Bibi – who “pulled out a world map, colour-coded to illustrate how Israel’s foreign relations have improved” – BDS is “on the defensive”, and “taking hits on many fronts.”
Netanyahu made his remarks during a meeting of the State Control Committee, the background for which, as Ha’aretz described, “were two state comptroller reports published on May 24 exposing a list of Israeli failures against the BDS movement and in the state Hasbara (public diplomacy) system.” Read more
This week saw two setbacks in efforts by Israel’s supporters in the UK to undermine Palestine solidarity activism, and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in particular.
The first came at the High Court in London, where Jewish Human Rights Watch – a relatively new organisation founded by a man described by Conservative leadership candidate Michael Gove as a “great friend” – suffered a defeat in its legal action against three local authorities that passed resolutions in support of Palestinian rights. Read more
In 2005, a group of activists launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, a global civil society campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to end human rights violations.
Over the years, BDS has gathered momentum and picked up support amongst Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions and on university campuses worldwide.
The impact reached French companies in 2015, when Orange and Veolia, as well as Irish building materials group CRH, all withdrew from the Israeli market following long-running campaigns by BDS activists which, in the case of Veolia, cost the multinational company millions in contracts. Read more
In 2005, a draft, working definition of antisemitism was circulated by the European Union’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). To the dismay of its critics, the document confused genuine antisemitism with criticism of Israel, and was repeatedly, and erroneously, promoted by Israel advocacy groups as the EU definition of antisemitism.
By 2013, the EUMC’s successor body, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), had abandoned the politicised definition as unfit for purpose. Just this week, in response to a motion passed at NUS conference, the FRA explicitly denied having ever adopted the definition. Yet on March 30, Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues and chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, revived the discredited definition by publishing it on the government’s website. Why? Read more
The Conservative Party is fast cementing the British government’s reputation as one of Israel’s strongest allies, even as Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition pursues settlement expansion, land expropriation and nationalist legislation.
While there has long been a disparity between the UK government’s position on international law and action (or lack of it) taken in response to Israeli breaches, under the current government, that gap is only getting wider.
In recent times, the Tories have pursued a foreign policy that opposes modest Palestinian attempts at accountability, and at home, have sought to intimidate and suppress Palestine solidarity activism. Read more
Claims published over the weekend by the Sunday Telegraph that the UK government “pulled” funding for War on Want (WoW) in response to its Palestine solidarity activities have been described as a “complete fabrication” by the anti-poverty charity.
The article, ‘Charity backing anti-Israel rallies has state cash pulled’, reported that the government had “ceased funding” WoW. According to correspondent Andrew Gilligan, the charity has “sponsored events accused of promoting hatred and violence against Jews.” Read more
On February 17, British Cabinet Minister Matthew Hancock stood alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and announced the publication of “new guidance” for local authorities concerning procurement. The move was trailed – and presented by the government – as designed to ‘ban’ boycotts of Israeli goods and services by councils.
But did the procurement guidance really criminalise boycotts – and what about additional, pending moves by the British government to restrict how local authorities choose to invest pension funds? What is really going on behind this attack on local democracy, in the name of shielding the Israeli state, its institutions, and complicit corporations from a growing global boycott campaign? Read more
This week I have participated in events organised as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, which every year “aims to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”.
For some, talk of Israeli “apartheid” may seem like just another buzzword used by activists. Others see it as unhelpful, lazy, inflammatory, or even antisemitic.
But what are we really saying when we talk about Israeli apartheid? Read more
The Conservative Government is planning a significant assault on political freedoms in the name of protecting those profiting from human rights violations. Specifically, they are seeking to shield Israel from the growing pressure of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Read more