'BDS movement is antisemitic,' British Home Secretary says

"Everything we have seen around the BDS movement is racist," Priti Patel said, explaining that this includes "the antisemitic tropes, the cartoons, the chants [and] the flag-waving."

British International Development Secretary Priti Patel attends a meeting with representatives from humanitarian aid agencies in Mogadishu, Somalia. (photo credit: REUTERS)
British International Development Secretary Priti Patel attends a meeting with representatives from humanitarian aid agencies in Mogadishu, Somalia.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The BDS movement is racist and antisemitic, British Home Secretary Priti Patel told a gathering of Conservative Friends of Israel. “Holding the Jewish community collectively responsible for what happens in the Middle East by my definition is racist,” Patel said.

She spoke at a CFI Independence Day event on Monday that included an audience of 50 parliamentarians and Israel Ambassador to Great Britain Tzipi Hotovely.

Patel’s Conservative Party intends to present legislation that would prevent British public bodies from engaging in boycott activities such as BDS.

“Everything we have seen around the BDS movement is racist,” she said, including “the antisemitic tropes, the cartoons, the chants [and] the flag-waving.”

Patel said that growing up, she did not recall antisemitism being a feature of British life, but that has changed.

 Israel's Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked meets with her British counterpart, the United Kingdom's Home Secretary Priti Patel, on Thursday in London. (credit: UNITED KINGDOM HOME OFFICE via TWITTER) Israel's Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked meets with her British counterpart, the United Kingdom's Home Secretary Priti Patel, on Thursday in London. (credit: UNITED KINGDOM HOME OFFICE via TWITTER)

“In my 12 years in parliament, it is utterly appalling that antisemitism has been on the increase,” she said. It has infiltrated our politics, our political dialogue and discourse. That is completely unacceptable. Antisemitism is racism in my book, it really is. That is why we are united in standing up and speaking out against antisemitism.”

Patel reaffirmed Britain’s stand against terrorism, recalling the UK’s decision to outlaw both the so-called military and political wings of Hamas.

This was a “moral imperative,” she said, “because Hamas participates in, promotes and encourages terrorism, and we can never tolerate extremism.”

There must be zero tolerance for terrorism, Patel stated.

She spoke of her deep connection to Israel and the Jewish people, as well as the shared values including a belief in freedom and democracy. 

Israel and Great Britain “have a prosperous future together... for centuries to come,” Patel said, one that will include security, trade and most importantly, the “bond of friendship."