CAA takes on BBC Moral Maze, Channel 4 News and LBC in defence of government ban on boycotts
20th February 2016
This week the government published guidance making clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, except in cases where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government. The Cabinet Office has said that “town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling antisemitism.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed this announcement and has defended the policy in the media.
Appearing on the BBC’s Moral Maze, Channel 4 News and LBC, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Director of Communications, firmly defended the policy, pointing out that those boycotting Israel generally are not making a simple personal choice but are using intimidation to silence their opponents and hijack local authorities, universities and even NHS Trusts to pursue their fringe agenda. Panelists on the Moral Maze discussed the boycott of Israel in the context of boycotting Nazi Germany and ISIS.
The movement to boycott Israel is a fringe one, which has had no political impact in the Middle East. Trade between Israel and the UK is stronger than ever, but the effect in Britain of fringe political groups trying to force these views on local councils, universities, and shops has helped to create a climate of intimidation, causing great distress to many Jewish people.
In our polling of British Jews, 84% considered boycotts of businesses selling Israeli products to be intimidatory. 77% had witnessed antisemitism disguised as a political comment about Israel. It is common for those engaged in boycotting Israel to commit antisemitic acts, for example a man was recently convicted and fined for making a Nazi salute at a boycott protest outside Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street in London.
In a few weeks we will publish our National Antisemitic Crime Audit, drawing on data from police forces in the UK. It shows a rise in levels of antisemitic crimes, especially violence against British Jews. Meanwhile, the highest number of Jewish people since the Holocaust are leaving Europe for Israel and other countries. We are therefore pleased that the government is taking action to protect British Jews.