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Pro-Israel group loses ‘anti-Semitism’ case against Leicester council

July 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm

An activist holds up a placard during a protest supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) [Heri Rakotomalala/Flickr]

Leicester City Council has “won its long-running legal battle” against a pro-Israel advocacy group over a motion backing a boycott of Israeli settlement produce, reported the Leicester Mercury.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the Court of Appeal rejected the arguments brought by Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW), who had taken legal action against the 2014 council motion.

As reported by the local paper, “JHRW challenged a High Court judge’s previous decision to reject the pressure group’s attempt to force the council to rescind the boycott”, arguing that “the council had breached its own equalities rules and had acted in a discriminatory manner”.

The council, however, won yesterday’s case, and “JHRW has indicated it will not pursue the matter further”. In addition, “JHRW is now likely to have to pay the council’s legal costs”.

The council’s barrister, Kamal Adatia, said after the case: “The High Court originally dismissed the claims of discrimination made by this group back in June 2016, and now the Court of Appeal has emphatically thrown out their appeal.”

READ: Pro-Israel group loses High Court ruling over councils’ boycott resolutions

“The ruling totally endorses Leicester’s approach to handling this motion, and has made no change whatsoever to the way in which councils can pass such motions in future.”

“The judgement is a landmark – not for organisations like JHRW, but for all local councils. It recognises their fundamental right to pass motions of this nature and makes it clear that they can, like Leicester, fully comply with their equality duties when doing so.”

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “Their argument has been trounced in the judge’s decision.”

I strongly resent the implication it is not possible to criticise the Israeli government without being anti-Semitic.

The motion backing a boycott of goods made in internationally-condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory was, Soulsby said, “never anticipated to have a major impact (on our purchasing)”, but rather “was a powerful gesture to show support for the plight of the Palestinians”.

In a bizarre press release, Jewish Human Rights Watch spun defeat as victory, claiming that despite their appeal being rejected, the ruling “made a number of very important changes to the law”.