BDS Movement: Boris Johnson’s BDS Ban Recalls Margaret Thatcher’s Support of Apartheid South Africa

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement hit back at UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to ban public authorities from participating in the international movement boycotting Israeli goods.

“Boris Johnson’s government, like the anti-Palestinian Trump administration, is more than ever directly engaged in Israel’s desperate war of repression on advocacy for Palestinian rights and on BDS in particular,” the BDS movement said in a statement on Wednesday.

The group likened Johnson’s move, which was announced earlier this week, to former PM Margaret Thatcher’s decision in 1988 to ban local British councils from boycotts and divestment against apartheid South Africa.

“It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now,” BDS said.

“Supporters of freedom of expression, human rights and international law should oppose the UK government’s efforts to repress our peaceful movement for freedom, justice & equality,” the statement concluded.

Johnson’s promise to ban the BDS movement was featured in his conservaative party’s manifesto, where the movement was described as “undermining community cohesion.”

He is expected to officially announce the proposal on Thursday during the ceremonial launch of his agenda.

Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues Lord Eric Pickles posted a video to the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group’s Twitter feed, accusing the movement of being a “thin disguise for anti-Semitism.”

“We’re going to ensure that public sector, places like councils and health authorities, can’t work against Israel, can’t prejudice Israel,” he continued, adding that BDS is “one of the worst, wink wink, nudge nudge, piece of racialism that we know.”

Advocates of Palestinian rights expressed their concerns over Johnson’s move, which would further the false narrative that criticisms of Israel were equal to antisemitism.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) tweeted their solidarity and support for local organizations in the UK working to promote the BDS movement, and called Johnson’s plan “frightening” and “anti-democratic.”

Johnson, who has described himself as a “passionate Zionist” was elected to the role of Prime Minister last week, following a heated campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

A large part of the campaign was characterized by the discourse on Israel and Palestine, specifically the BDS movement, and the labelling of Corbyn as an “anti-Semite” for his support of Palestinian rights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his delight at Johnson’s “astonishing victory.”

“I look forward Boris to working with you in the coming years to strengthening even further the important friendship between Israel and the UK. Congratulations my friend,” Netanyahu tweeted.

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Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons


Articles by: Yumna Patel

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