A Tory councillor has attacked the right to boycott Israel—using the same definition of antisemitism that the Labour right want Jeremy Corbyn to adopt.
Tory-controlled Barnet council in north London was set to vote on a motion on Tuesday that labels the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as antisemitic.
BDS aims to put pressure on Israel by organising boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s racist occupation of Palestinian land. It was launched as an international campaign after a call for solidarity from more than 170 organisations in Palestine.
Supporters of Israel frequently brand the BDS campaign as antisemitic.
In his motion Tory councillor Brian Gordon claimed BDS falls foul of an example linked to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The example says it could be antisemitic to call the state of Israel racist. This is the same example that the right have demanded Labour adopt in its new code of conduct on antisemitism.
If passed, the motion will seek to stifle BDS campaigning in the borough. It calls on the council not to “give space” to organisations that support BDS.
Even more threatening, it calls on the council to pressure “landlords of event venues in the borough not to provide or rent any space for clubs, organisations or even individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement.”
The right claim that their version of the IHRA definition doesn’t rule out legitimate criticism of Israel.
But the Tory motion shows how supporters of Israel will use the definition to silence the right to campaign in solidarity with Palestine.