On Sunday, the UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues informed the International Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s conference in Jerusalem that the new Conservative British government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson would pass a law making it illegal for public bodies to engage with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, as The Jerusalem Post reported.
Eric Pickles stated, “BDS is anti-Semitic and should be treated as such.” He also stated that the blowout loss inflicted on the Labour Party by the Conservative party proved the British people hate anti-Semitism, asserting, “Antisemitism is an attack on the British way of life and British identity. Without our Jewish citizens we would be a lesser nation. Without our Jewish citizens, we should be a lesser nation.”
In November 2015, when he was mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s trade visit to Israel included some meetings with Palestinians that were canceled after the Palestinians took issue with Johnson’s remarks about the BDS movement, as The Guardian reported.
According to Commentary Magazine, Johnson told an Israeli reporter:
I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or whatever or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist, open society – you know, why boycott Israel? And by the way, I think there’s some misunderstanding of it over here about it, but the supporters of this so-called boycott are really just a bunch of, you know, corduroy-jacketed academics from, you know, lefty – not that there’s anything wrong with wearing corduroy jackets, I hasten to say! – but they are, by and large, lefty academics who have no real standing in the matter and I think are highly unlikely to be influential on Britain. And this is a very very small minority in our country who are calling for this, so bear that in mind.
Johnson was supported in an op-ed in The Telegraph, which wrote in part:
Those who have taken umbrage at Mr. Johnson’s remarks are clearly lacking a sense of irony. One cornerstone of a democratic society is free speech, the willingness to allow someone to say things with which you disagree, without penalty or punishment. Refusing to talk to Mr. Johnson over a difference of opinion may thus lend weight to the argument that parts of Palestinian society fall short of the democratic standard set by the state of Israel … Mr. Johnson is quite right in his admiration for Israel and his contempt for those advocating a boycott. And given that he is a political member of David Cameron’s Cabinet, perhaps the Government should make clear that, in this, the mayor speaks for Britain.
Johnson has also compared Israel to the iconic 20thcentury leader of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, asserting, “If we look at the history of modern Israel there is no doubt that the comparison can be extended, and that there is something Churchillian about the country he helped to create. There is the audacity, the bravery, the willingness to take risks with feats of outrageous derring-do … When Churchill wrote his 1922 white paper that paved the way for accelerated Jewish entry into Palestine, Churchill imagined Jews and Arabs living side by side, with technically expert Jewish farmers helping the Arabs to drive tractors.”