Anyone who was following Friday’s Twitter tirades, as hundreds of activists (or as French journalists call them, ‘militants’) embarked upon the latest failed attempt to embarrass Israel in the form of the ill-fated ‘flytilla’ will probably have noticed a Tweet on the now suspended ‘PalSpring’ account sometime in the early afternoon from the Palestinian BDS movement’s National Committee (BNC) .
The Tweet advertised a call by the BNC to “Impose an immediate, comprehensive military embargo on Israel”. The statement included the following wording:
“Seven years after the International Court of Justice advisory opinion recommending international cooperation to ensure that Israel dismantles its illegal Wall in the occupied West Bank”
“Furthermore, Israel has consistently taken advantage of its armed conflicts and military assaults for “field-testing” its weapons and doctrines of warfare against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, in partnership with its research institutes.”
“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue.”
“the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls for immediate international action towards a mandatory comprehensive military embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.”
At 9 p.m. on the same evening, July 8th, a letter appeared in the ‘World News/Palestinian Territories’ section of the Guardian’s website. Here is its wording – all emphasis mine:
“Today marks seven years since the international court of justice ruling that the apartheid wall being built by Israel in the occupied West Bank is illegal and should be torn down. Yet the wall continues to be built, cutting children off from schools, farmers from their land and families from each other, devastating virtually every aspect of Palestinian life. A military embargo of Israel is long overdue.
Today, Palestinian civil society and its supporters worldwide are launching a global campaign for a comprehensive, military embargo against Israel, similar to that imposed against apartheid-era South Africa. The UK government continues to sell millions of pounds of arms to Israel in violation of its own arms export policy. In 2010, the UK government approved licences for arms exports to Israel worth £23.7m.
The government also buys military equipment from Israel which is “battle-tested” against Palestinians living in the occupied territories. By selling arms to Israel the UK is giving direct material support for Israel’s aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions. A complete arms embargo between the UK and Israel must be implemented immediately.”
Of course the startlingly similar wording in the two documents is no coincidence. One of the signatories of the Guardian letter is Hind Awwad – a senior member of the BNC. Another is Sarah Colborne of the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who appears to have taken time out from her current enthusiastic defence campaign on behalf of the antisemitic and homophobic Islamist preacher Raed Salah (currently under arrest in the UK) in order to sign this letter. The PSC and the BNC are, of course, both connected to the BDS campaign, the flotilla and the flytilla.
Two years ago the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights ruled that it is illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods. It further ruled that making it illegal to boycott Israeli goods does not constitute a violation of freedom of expression. The BNC and the PSC are two of several organisations at the forefront of the BDS campaign.
The Guardian’s legal department may therefore care to examine the implications of the willingness of its letters editor to act as a puppet on a string for extremist and discriminatory organisations such as the BNC and the PSC.
When racists and bigots say “jump”, liberal voices should not be asking “how high?”