National Jewish Assembly Objects to Union of Jewish Students Motion Opposing Anti-BDS Bill

The NJA is disheartened by news that the Union of Jewish Students voted at its annual conference to oppose a UK government proposal that would significantly hinder the activities of the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in the UK.

The BDS movement is a Palestinian-led campaign that seeks to exert economic, political, and cultural pressure on Israel in an effort to undermine Israel and erase its Jewish character. Any self-respecting British Jew should stand opposed to the BDS movement, especially since the movement lacks no limiting principle short of the total destruction of Israel.

The BDS movement is utterly uninterested in promoting a rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians, nor is it oriented towards a peaceful settlement to the conflict. It effectively rejects the Jewish people’s right of self-determination, which is in direct violation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Antisemitism.

Notwithstanding the focus on this legislation and its implications for the BDS movement, the NJA wishes to draw attention to the essence of the proposed law: to clarify that Local Authorities cannot make investment decisions that conflict with UK foreign policy.

It is imperative that this legislative gap is closed, not least because foreign policy is not within the remit of Local Authorities, but it also prevents them from undermining His Majesty’s Government’s decisions concerning foreign affairs and diplomacy.

It is for all the reasons above that the NJA disagrees with the Noam Masorti Youth, RSY-Netzer, LJZ-Netzer, and Habonim Dror groups for petitioning the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council to pressure them to oppose the legislation, and urges those youth groups to reconsider their position with the wider community in mind.

Young NJA Chairman Michael Rowe said, “‘We thank and applaud the British government for its bold action to tackle the appalling BDS movement and utterly condemn the UJS’ decision to oppose this move. Jewish communal organisations should be doing all they can to tackle rising anti-Semitism and not standing in the way of effective measures to tackle it.”

The NJA notes that the UJS reaffirmed its opposition to BDS in the wording of the relevant motion during its annual conference this year, and encourages the UJS to follow-through on its stance by supporting measures, such as this legislation, that would curtail the BDS movement’s pernicious efforts in the UK.

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