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BLM UK accused of anti-Semitism after airing support for Palestinians

June 29, 2020 at 2:23 pm

A protestor holds up a “Palestine 4 Black Lives” placard at the Black Lives Matter protests in London, UK on 7 June 2020 [Lauren Lewis/Middle East Monitor]

Black Lives Matter UK (BLM UK) was accused of anti-Semitism by the UK’s Board of Deputies after tweeting solidarity with Palestinians as annexation looms.

In a Tweet, the movement said criticism of Zionism and Israel’s “settler colonial pursuits” were gagged in British politics, and that they “loudly and clearly stood by their Palestinian comrades”.

“As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades. FREE PALESTINE.”


They followed up on the tweet with further reading on the subject of Israel-Palestine from a range of different sources.

The UK’s Board of Deputies swiftly responded to the tweet with accusations of anti-Semitism and claimed the far left and far right were trying to “divide black and Jewish communities”.

READ: The definition of anti-Semitism has been weaponised for Israel’s benefit

The Board’s President Marie van der Zyl said in a statement: “It is beyond disappointing that the Black Lives Matter UK, supposedly an anti-racist organisation has leaned into the anti-semitic trope that British politics is “gagged” in terms of debating Israel, a claim particularly preposterous because Israel is one of the most-discussed foreign policy issues in this country.”

“However, the failings of this one particular group will not stop us from standing alongside black people in their quest for justice, whether inside or outside our community.”

After the criticism, BLM UK further tweeted: “We said it: The UK is not innocent.

We MUST be able to hold states accountable for their actions. Whether that’s Britain, the US, China or Israel. No state is above critique. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law.”

“For Israel to move annex (sic) it on 1st of July is an affront, and it is heartbreaking that Britain is shielding such horrific actions. We stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and all struggling with them.”

This is not the first time BLM has come under fire for supporting Palestinians. In a 2019 interview with rapper, artist and Palestine activist Lowkey, Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the US’ Black Lives Matter movement revealed how funding was pulled after a BLM solidarity trip to Palestine took place and they issued a message in solidarity with the Palestinians.

This latest episode in the anti-Semitism row comes after the Board of Deputies rejected UK Labour lawmaker Lisa Nandy’s proposal to ban imports from illegal settlements in the West Bank if annexation goes ahead, and cautioned Labour leader Keir Starmer to also reject the proposal.

Last week, the Board of Deputies accused former Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey of anti-Semitism for sharing an interview with actress and Palestine activist Maxine Peake in which she spoke about Israel’s role in training US police forces, resulting in her sacking.

READ: Labour leader’s knee jerk reaction to knee-on-the-neck tweet is spineless