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Boycott, Divest, Sanction protest against Israel (archive)

The UK government has taken the first concrete step towards outlawing the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions economic war on Israel in Britain.

The British Parliament on Wednesday approved an amendment tabled by former Communities Minister Rob Jenrick aimed to stopping local authority pension funds from backing BDS sanctions against UK companies connected with Israel, according to The JC.

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A number of Labour MPs spoke out against the amendment, including MP Zarah Sultana, who said the bill would ensure that pension funds were “weaponized against human rights campaigns.”

Former deputy leader of the Labour Party, John McDonnel said he doesn’t believe it is the role of the state to “ride roughshod over my moral choices.”

“For too long we have seen public pension schemes pursue pseudo foreign policies and all too often the foreign policy of these public pension schemes is, I’m afraid, exclusively focused on rewriting the UK’s relationship with the world’s only Jewish state, Israel,” Jenrick said in his remarks to the Commons.

He called BDS campaigners a “minority of an extreme and well organized clique,” adding, “You don’t have to look very hard to find a pattern of antisemitic behavior in connection with campaigns promoting a boycott of Israel. Successive studies have shown the single best statistical predictor of anti-Jewish hostility is the amount of BDS activity…”

Following the vote, Jenrick told The JC, “BDS against Israel is all too often connected to antisemitism here in the UK and does nothing to promote peace and is increasingly out of step with the mood in the Middle East following the Abraham Accords, whereby a number of Gulf states are forging productive links with Israel.

“It is unacceptable for local councils to be making divisive foreign policy interventions contrary to the position of the UK Government. I am delighted that my amendment has passed and will be the first step in legislation outlawing BDS in the UK. I hope it presages a wider Bill in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech tackling BDS throughout the public sector.”

Passage of the amendment came in the wake of Britain’s Supreme Court in May 2020 overruled a previous government attempt to curb BDS in Britain. The decision followed a four-year legal battle by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.