February 28, 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Says He’ll Fight BDS

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 11: London Mayor and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson, arrives at Downing Street on May 11, 2015 in London, England. Prime Minister David Cameron continued to announce his new cabinet with many ministers keeping their old positions. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

In a Dec. 19 speech in the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to combat boycotts against Israel, saying that Israel tends to be a target of such policies with “nauseating frequency.”

Johnson, who was reelected on Dec. 12, said, “We will stop public bodies from taking it upon themselves to boycott goods from other countries, to develop their own pseudo-foreign policy against countries, which with nauseating frequency turns out to be Israel.”

Such public bodies would include local councils and labor unions, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl said that government institutions engaging in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) practices “intimidates Jewish communities in the Diaspora and does nothing to build peace in the Middle East. We welcome the government’s pledge today to take action.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “We join the UK Jewish community in welcoming the new British governments commitment to work against unfair and counterproductive BDS campaigns.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris similarly tweeted, “Bravo, UK Prime Minister @BorisJohnson! Your words in Parliament calling for an end to those who boycott #Israel ‘with nauseating frequency’ couldn’t be clearer or more welcome. By showing such principle & backbone, you’ve set an inspiring example for others to follow.”

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum also tweeted, “Thanks @BorisJohnson for your moral clarity.”

Johnson’s speech comes after United Kingdom Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues Eric Pickles announced on Dec. 15 that the Johnson government would focus on passing an anti-BDS law that would limit public bodies from enacting such policies.

Queen Elizabeth’s Dec. 19 speech, which highlighted the priorities of the Johnson government, mentioned boycotts of Israel and anti-Semitism and hinted at potential government action to combat it.

“Government action will prevent divisive behavior that undermines community cohesion,” the speech read. “There are concerns that such boycotts have legitimized anti-Semitism, such as Jewish films being censored and Jewish university societies being threatened.”