Guardian characterizes Boris Johnson’s pro-Israel, anti-BDS comments as a “gaffe”

The Guardian published a story today (July 14th) by Chris Johnston on the appointment, by Britain’s new prime minister, of former London Mayor Boris Johnson as foreign secretary titled ‘Britain’s new foreign secretary Boris Johnson: a career of international gaffes‘.


Among the “gaffes” listed, were comments by Johnson while on a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories last year.

Israel – November 2015

Johnson’s visit to the occupied Palestinian territories is severely curtailed by his hosts in protest at a series of strongly pro-Israel remarks. They included telling an audience in Tel Aviv that a trade boycott of Israeli goods was “completely crazy” and supported by “corduroy-jacketed, snaggletoothed, lefty academics in the UK”.

Tellingly, another Guardian journalist today on twitter (deputy editor Paul Johnson) repeated the mantra that Johnson “insulted” the Palestinians during his visit.

paul johnson tweet

What these Guardian journalists are referring to is the row over Johnson’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories last November, in which two Palestinian NGOs cancelled previously scheduled meetings with him to protest statements he made on the trip critical of BDS.

As the Guardian reported at the time, during his trip, Johnson repeatedly criticized calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, describing the campaign as “foolish”, “completely crazy” and promoted by a “few lefty academics in corduroy jackets”.  Johnson defended Israel as the only democracy in the region, and the only place in the region that has “a pluralist open society.”

However, opposition to BDS represents the consensus within British politics.  

In fact, the previous government (led by David Cameron) was so hostile to BDS that it enacted new rules banning local authorities and public-sector organizations from boycotting Israeli suppliers.  A poll (commissioned by BICOM) conducted the same month Johnson made his trip to the region showed that only a very small percentage of Brits support boycotting Israel.

In a poll conducted last year, 84% of British Jews expressed their belief that boycotts of businesses selling Israeli products is a form of anti-Jewish intimidation.

Within the Guardian echo-chamber, of course, those who take the view that boycotts against Israel are counter-productive, morally hypocritical, discriminatory, and arguably antisemitic, are often immediately marginalized and placed in the worst possible political category: Zionist ‘right-wingers’!

Regardless of where one stands on the appointment of Johnson as foreign secretary, to suggest that his criticism of BDS while in Israel represented a “gaffe” is absurd. 


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