British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories was “racist” and “anti-Semitic”.
“Holding the Jewish community collectively responsible for what happens in the Middle East by my definition is racist,” Patel said in a speech at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual parliamentary reception on Monday.
This comes after the UK government revealed its long-anticipated plan to ban the BDS campaign during the Queen’s Speech last week. The anti-BDS legislation will curtail the freedom of public bodies from adopting ethical positions against human rights abusers by proscribing boycotts and divestment campaigns against foreign countries. Though Israel is not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, it is widely understood that the aim of the Tory government is to shield Israel from the growing BDS movement, which seeks to end Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine.
Addressing an audience of 140 CFI supporters, including 50 parliamentarians, the Home Secretary confirmed she is a “strong defender” of Israel.
She also praised Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely, who was also in attendance, for “who you are and what you do”, and for the “wider support” that she said Israel gives to the UK.
Patel added “everything we have seen around the BDS movement is racist.”
The UK Government, Patel added, “will continue to send out the strongest messages around zero tolerance towards terrorist activities, but also towards the type of activities that are aimed and targeted at hurting the State of Israel, Jewish communities and the people of Israel.”
In response, Israeli Ambassador Hotovely commended the Home Secretary for her work in “combating terrorism, fighting all types of extremism and fighting antisemitism.”
She also praised CFI for “its incredible work that really contributes to the prosperity of our wonderful democracies”, describing CFI as “an organisation that stands behind actions.”
Hotovely said that CFI is “always there on the front line to help us to fight BDS.”
A Nakba denier, Hotovely has said it is an “Arab lie” and a “made up story”. She also previously asserted that the entire occupied West Bank belongs to Israelis alone – “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.”