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Israeli minister in London to discuss anti-BDS fight with British officials

BDS
BDS [File photo]

The Israeli minister charged with combating the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is in London this week, amidst warnings in the Israeli press about some of the tactics being used to combat the growing boycott movement.

Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose brief includes fighting the so-called “delegitimisation” of the State of Israel, arrived in Britain on Sunday, and will hold meetings with senior officials and Jewish community organisations.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Erdan will discuss Israel-targeted boycotts by local authorities with Sajid Javid, Minister for Communities and Local Government. He will also discuss BDS activities on campuses with Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson, and how “to strengthen academic ties between the UK and Israel in response to boycott efforts.”

Embarking on his trip to London, Erdan described Britain as “the world centre of the anti-Israel BDS campaign.” He added: “I’m going there to battle the boycott and delegitimization in every arena, and to discuss with members of the British government – which is also committed to fighting boycotts – ways to strengthen our cooperation against the anti-Semitic [sic] boycott campaign.” BDS activists deny that anti-Jewish racism is the motivation for their campaign.

The Jerusalem Post said that Erdan will also meet with Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office, and with Baroness Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security. He is expected to tour Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit as well.

Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Maariv published an article on Sunday by veteran security and intelligence analyst Yossi Melman, warning of the risks inherent in apparent government-coordinated “special operations” against the BDS movement and Palestinian activists. According to Melman, officials within Israel’s Ministry of Justice are concerned that policies being formulated by Erdan’s ministry, including “secret actions”, may ultimately “end up in mishaps which would harm Israel’s foreign relations.”

Such actions may include, wrote Melman, “defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of [BDS] activists.” He cited reports that Israeli intelligence was behind both a cyber-attack on the BDS website, and threats made against Al-Haq’s representative at The Hague, Nada Kiswanson.
“It cannot be ruled out,” Melman stated, “that these actions, if taken indeed by Israel, were a ‘shot across the bow’.”

The analyst quoted remarks by the director of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry’s, who told the Knesset: “We want most of the ministry’s work to be classified. There are many sensitivities, and I can’t even explain in an open forum why there are such sensitivities… A major part of what we do stays under the radar.”

Opponents of the BDS campaign claim that boycotts don’t work. This ignores the fact that boycotts and sanctions certainly succeeded in ridding the world of South African apartheid, and that Israel wouldn’t be so worried about BDS if it wasn’t likely to harm the Zionist state’s interests.

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