BDS to be banned in Britain says MP Robert Jenrick
Speaking at a conference last Tuesday, Conservative MP Robert Jenrick has promised an ‘absolute ban’ on the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in Britain. Jenrick’s pledge is a disturbing development in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality in Palestine. If the BDS movement is outlawed, how can we peacefully stand up for Palestinian human rights?
At the Leadership Dialogue Institute’s annual conference, Jenrick stated that the Palestinian-led BDS movement has already been ‘beaten back’ in the UK, and if all goes to plan there will be an ‘absolute ban’ on the movement by 2023. Jenrick described this as a ‘great step forwards’ – but for whom?
BDS is a peaceful movement calling on Israel to comply with international law. It is inspired by the movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. BDS was also adopted against other human rights abusers in Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Turkey and Egypt. The British government under the guise of sanctions also practices BDS.
The problem here is the British Government’s unconditional support for Israel. Jenrick’s statement is just the latest development in the government’s increasing complicity in Israeli apartheid. Earlier this month, Minister for Asia Amanda Milling refused to condemn Israel’s designation of six important Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups.
BDS has brought global attention to Israeli apartheid practices, which may help to explain Jenrick’s comments. In July, Ben and Jerry’s announced that it would not be renewing its licensing agreement in the occupied West Bank due to moral objection to Israeli settlements. And in October, author Sally Rooney turned down a translation of her most recent book by an Israeli publishing company, explaining that it would not be right to work with a company complicit in apartheid. In June, Chile placed sanctions on Israel for breaking international law, and in December Kuwait followed suit.
Boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning the individuals, companies and culture complicit in apartheid is a powerful and peaceful way to stand up for the oppressed. BDS is an important and effective tool to pressure all oppressive and abusive governments around the world. To ban BDS will deny our basic political rights to hold countries accountable for violating international law. BDS must be allowed to continue to hold to account Israeli apartheid today and any other ‘apartheid’ country tomorrow.