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Posts tagged ‘Britain’

Is the UK government set to define the boycott of Israel as ‘antisemitic’?

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

UK silence on Israel’s detention of Palestinian children

In 2012, a report by a UK government-sponsored delegation of lawyers to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories found Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children in military detention to be in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Six years on, however, and Israel has made only modest changes; according to government minister Alistair Burt, speaking in the Houses of Parliament earlier this year, Israel has implemented just one of 43 specific recommendations made by the lawyers. Read more

Praise and protest: Reflections on how the Balfour centenary was marked

Following a year of build-up, the Balfour Declaration centenary has now come and gone. After the campaigns, events, articles and protests, I want to take a moment to make a few observations about how the centenary was marked.

To my mind, there were two main aspects to the anniversary’s significance. Read more

This week a world leader much worse than Donald Trump is visiting the UK – but I don’t see any protest from MPs

That US President Donald Trump has not yet made an official visit to the UK is down to the entirely justifiable opposition such a prospect provokes.

Here is a man who ran a racist election campaign and brought hard-right nationalists into the corridors of power, who has open contempt for treaties and bodies like the United Nations.

Yet this week, Theresa May will welcome to London another world leader about whom the exact same – and much more – can be said: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Read more

Amongst frustrated allies, patience has run out with Israel

The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond didn’t mince his words. Israel, he said, was guilty of “what looks and feels like a deliberate attempt to sabotage the two-state-solution.”

The diplomat went on, claiming that the “window” for a two-state agreement is “closing”, and that this was down to Israeli “settlement patterns” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

And all this even before Netanyahu’s re-election as prime minister had been confirmed. Read more

Britain re-writes diplomatic protocol to protect Israeli officials

In recent weeks the UK government has once again shown itself to be entirely unwilling to hold Israeli war crimes suspects to account, to the extent that the Foreign Office is leaving its procedures open to ridicule.

At the end of last month, IDF Major General (res.) Doron Almog was scheduled to visit Britain in order to meet with the UK Task Force, an organisation that coordinates engagement by Jewish groups on issues relating to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Almog was presumably invited in his capacity as “chief of staff” for implementing a pending Israeli government plan to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens in the Negev. But the military man is perhaps better known for narrowly escaping arrest in 2005 at Heathrow airport, after a warrant was issued based on allegations of war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip. Read more

British citizens are killed by Israel, but the UK does nothing

At the end of August, a civil suit brought by the family of Rachel Corrie came to an end with a Haifa judge ruling that the State of Israel bore no responsibility for the death of the American activist in 2003. Despite the judge’s decision, the case – including key testimonies – was widely believed to have “shed light on Israel’s grave breaches of human rights and the impunity enjoyed by its military”.

Rachel Corrie is not the only international to have been killed by Israel since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Three British citizens were shot dead by Israeli soldiers over a six month period in 2002-2003, crimes that almost a decade on are a reminder of the UK government’s reluctance to hold its ally to account. Read more

A very special mission

Last month, on the day that changes in universal jurisdiction law went into effect, Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she “received a phone call” from UK Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould telling her “there is no longer a warrant for my arrest”.

Yet when Livni arrived in Britain on Thursday, something went wrong. In what was billed as a “test case” for a law designed to remove the threat of arrest for visiting Israeli officials, Livni only avoided a warrant due to a legal assessment by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that she was on a “Special Mission”. Read more

‘Sleepwalking to segregation?’

Nissa Finney and Ludi Simpson
Policy Press, 218pp

ReviewsSegregationTwo months after British citizens exploded bombs in rucksacks on London’s public transport system, the head of what was then the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, warned that British society was ’sleepwalking to segregation’. Four years on, while the national conversation is perhaps less emotive, claims born out of a time of polarisation have become assumed ‘truths’ for some: ‘Muslim extremists are thriving in ghettoes’, ‘Whites are becoming a minority in their own country’.

‘Sleepwalking to Segregation’? confronts scaremongering, speculation and flabby rhetoric with hard statistics and pointed questions. It aims ‘to set the record straight’. Finney is a Research Fellow at Manchester specialising in ethnic group population patterns, while Ludi Simpson is Professor of Population Studies there. Read more

Britain, Christianity and Islam

The differing responses to Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali’s interview with the Daily Telegraph on 6 January 2008 tended to focus on his claim that across Britain, “Islamic extremists have created ‘no-go’ areas” for non-Muslims. However, there is a different approach to a constructively critical engagement of Nazir-Ali’s analysis, one that begins with the Bishop’s view that “it is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain”.

While Nazir-Ali’s comments were primarily about British Muslims, there was a broader context reflected both in his own remarks, and the Telegraph’s reporting of a recent Synod survey. This survey revealed that “bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers” consider “an increasingly multi-faith society” to threaten “the country’s Christian heritage”, while a third of those questioned thought that “a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain”. Read more