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UK: Controversial anti-BDS motion sent for legal review

August 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Protesters take part in a demonstration supporting Palestine in London, UK [Kate Green/Anadolu Agency]

The legality of a proposal to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign using a controversial definition of anti-Semitism has been raised by a London council.

Conservative Councillor, Brian Gordon, filed a motion in Barnet council on Tuesday in an attempt to outlaw the global movement to aid Palestinians in their campaign to end Israeli occupation. The motion uses the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism to support its claim that BDS is anti-Semitic.

The proposed motion will effectively outlaw organisations that support BDS against Israel and prevent individuals from accessing council services.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner raised concerns over the proposal tweeting on the day the motion was filed: “In the spirit of being fair to those who are concerned about the potentially problematic effect that the IHRA definition of antisemitism, I want to highlight this worrying motion which I am told is before the @BarnetCouncil meeting tonight.”

Wagner’s tweet was picked up by Barnet Councillor Arjun Mittra who said that the motion had not been debated “whatsoever” and instead the monitoring officer had ruled it must go directly to the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee with a report which will set out the legality of the proposal.

In a separate tweet, Mittra raised his concern over the denial of public services to supporters of BDS. “Whilst I oppose BDS I would have serious objections to denying services to those who support it,” he said. He encouraged Wagner to submit written questions on the item, and to ask supplementary oral questions.

Read: Israel bans Spanish BDS activist from entering country