(May 14, 2021 / JNS) Queen Elizabeth II has tasked the government of the United Kingdom with stopping local councils from implementing BDS activity against Israel and Jewish companies.
Though BDS is not specifically mentioned in her “Queen’s Speech” before the House of Lords on May 11 to open a new session of Parliament, she said that “measures will be introduced that support for businesses reflects the United Kingdom’s strategic interests and drives economic growth.”
According to a memorandum from the Office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the queen’s announcement is tied to legislation “ … to stop public bodies from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing boycott, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries.”
The legislation would, in part, prevent public institutions from carrying out boycotts, divestments and sanctions against foreign countries, or those linked to them, in addition to the sale of goods and services from foreign countries.
The Jewish Human Rights Watch group in England praised the move, saying it was “delighted to hear Her Majesty the Queen propose a ban on public sector Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) … .” The group noted that several local councils who had chosen such measures were taken to court to “highlight the injustice of the practice.”
Manny Weiss, the founder of Jewish Human Rights Watch, told JNS “it was our intention to make the practice of discrimination and prejudice against British Jews and Israel as unpalatable and unacceptable as it should be. We are delighted that Her Majesty’s Bill will ensure that councils can no longer discriminate in this way, and protection of free trade is assured.”
In introducing the legislative agenda, the prime minister’s office noted: “Unofficial boycotts have been associated with anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, including kosher food being removed from supermarket shelves, Jewish films being banned from a film festival, and a student union holding a vote on blocking the formation of a Jewish student society.”
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