Theresa May mounts fresh pledge to tackle anti-Semitism while blasting ‘unacceptable’ Israeli boycott calls
Theresa May has said there are “no excuses” for anti-Semitism in Britain and rejected calls for a boycott of Israeli goods.
The Prime Minister said in a speech to Jewish leaders that criticism of Israel was never a justification for “hatred against the Jewish people”
She hit out at the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is backed by activists, including some Labour frontbenchers, in protest over the country’s treatment of Palestinians.
In a speech at the United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner in London, Mrs May said: “There can never be any excuses for boycotts, divestment or sanctions: they are unacceptable and this government will have no truck with those who subscribe to them.”
“Under my leadership the UK will always be a real and trusted partner for Israel, supporting Israel’s security and prosperity, not just through our words but also through our actions.”
Mrs May said that given Britain had adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, “no-one can plead ignorance or hide behind any kind of excuse”.
Her speech comes after Labour was embroiled in an anti-Semitism scandal throughtout the summer over its failure to fully adopt the definition.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party eventually accepted the policy, but faced criticism for including an additional statement saying the move would not “undermine freedom of expression” on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.
In an apparent swipe against the opposition leader, she said: “Let me be clear: you cannot claim to be tackling racism, if you are not tackling anti-Semitism.”
Mrs May said she did not underestimate the threat of hatred against Jews and said she was “sickened” that many felt at risk by living in the UK.
“I know some in our Jewish community say they are fearful of the future.
“I saw that poll on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle and it sickens me that anyone should feel like that in our country,” she said, referring to a survey that showed 40% of British Jews would seriously consider leaving the country if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister.
Elsewhere, she said the Government “will always support Israel’s right to defend itself” but criticised the administration's actions against the Palestinian people.
“I want to see progress towards a lasting peace - a peace that must be based on a two-state solution with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state," she continued.
“There will need to be courage and vision from each side if we are to have a realistic chance of achieving this goal - including an end to the building of new settlements and an end to Palestinian incitement too.”