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British PM Johnson pledges to combat BDS movements and its ‘pseudo-foreign policy’ against Israel

20 Dec 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged Thursday, during the Queen’s Speech, to introduce legislation to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Outlining his government’s priorities at the House of Commons, Prime Minister Johnson said his government would work to stop public bodies from developing “their own pseudo-foreign policy, against a country which with nauseating frequency turns out to be Israel.”

Some local authorities have voted to support BDS by opposing products produced in the West Bank. If Johnson’s legislation passes, the new law would supplant current local law and prevent local councils from imposing boycotts, as well as ban universities from organizing BDS campaigns against any country.

In documents laying out his party’s agenda, Prime Minister Johnson said that BDS had fueled antisemitism, citing the censorship of Jewish films and threats to ban Jewish university societies.

Marie van Der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed the announcement, noting that the boycott, divestment and sanctions of public bodies “intimidates Jewish communities in the Diaspora and does nothing to build peace in the Middle East.”

Britain is not the first country to announce steps to combat BDS. In May, the German Bundestag passed the first symbolic resolution of its kind in the European designating the BDS movement against Israel as anti-Semitic and calling on government bodies to refrain from funding or supporting any groups that question Israel’s right to exist. World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called that motion “a moral gesture worthy of emulation” which sets a “strong example to other governments in Europe on contending with the funding for groups which call Israel’s right to exist into question and promote agendas which run contrary to European values and the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” 

In addition, following a resolution in the House of Representatives condemning BDS in July, President Lauder said that the BDS movement “does not seek peace, nor the promotion of human rights. The BDS’ sole aim is the removal of Israel from all world maps. Opposing this movement is of critical importance across the political spectrum.”