Israel’s justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, who in 2015 published on Facebook a call for a genocide of the Palestinians, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure,” has employed rhetoric about BDS that has been echoed by UK Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove. In fact, her language is temperate compared to Gove’s.
Shaked said supporters of movements such as the non-violent BDS, which calls for putting economic and political pressure on Israel in a bid to force it to comply with international law and gain rights for Palestinians, are “using the same kind of anti-Semitism but instead of saying they are against the Jews, they say they are against Israel.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Shaked said:
In the past, we saw European leaders speaking against the Jews. Now, we see them speaking against Israel. It is the same anti-Semitism of blood libels, spreading lies, distorting reality and brainwashing people into hating Israel and the Jews
Shaked had spoken earlier in the day at an international symposium in Warsaw marking the 80th anniversary of the Nuremberg Race Laws adopted by Nazi Germany.
Gove has also misrepresented a boycott of Israeli goods and institutions, claiming it involves:
the shunning of Jewish academics, the boycott of Jewish goods, the de-legitimisation of Jewish commerce. We have seen these all before. And we know where it takes us.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove was speaking to an audience at the recent Berlin conference on anti-Semitism. He boasted that the Conservative government has ‘made clear that local authorities and public bodies cannot adopt BDS policies aimed at Israel’. He was alluding to a public procurement note that – in a highly unusual departure from parliamentary protocol – was announced at a press conference with the Prime Minister of Israel on 17 February by Matthew Hancock the Minister for the Cabinet, disregarding due democratic process. Ben White has noted, however that ‘the lack of an actual ‘ban’ on boycotts, as widely and incorrectly reported, is more damning; the government has not changed the law, but sought to intimidate local authorities into thinking that they have.’
The chilling effect of his Gove’s words on BDS was clear: if you support a boycott of Israel, you are an anti-Semite and – worst still – your actions will lead to a modern-day pogrom of Jewish communities. This is language we have come to expect from Israeli lawmakers, but not from UK politicians.