Our statement on the recent comments from Lord Pickles regarding the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, at a recent conference in Jerusalem:
As British Jews who love Israel and care for the security of our community, we are committed to fighting all forms of antisemitism, racism and bigotry. We recognize that antisemitism can be disguised as anti-Israel or pro-Israel political views.
We believe the tactics employed by the BDS movement are misguided and wrong. However, any proposal to ban public bodies from engaging with those who express support for BDS risks harming the right to free speech, whilst doing little to combat antisemitism or defend Israel.
As an organisation that supports democratic principles and believes in the power of debate, we support freedom of speech. We strongly believe that the basic right to nonviolent protest must be secured. We are worried that an outright ban of a broad range of nonviolent criticism will not combat BDS or make our community safer, nor will it make Israel more secure.
As supporters of Israel, we believe it should be allowed to thrive. Whilst we are opposed to the ongoing occupation, we are also opposed to a policy of isolation. We believe that boycotting implies that the solution to the conflict can be imposed externally without a genuine negotiation process between both sides. We do not support public bodies taking action to boycott Israel, but equally we express concern that they should be barred from engaging with others that do.
We believe that the way to win the argument against the BDS movement is by debate and persuasion, not by outlawing political views with which we disagree.