The UK government’s assault on public support for Palestinians has invaded the classrooms. According to a recent report from the Independent, Anti-terror police question schoolboy for wearing pro-Palestine badge. Note that BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, was apparently a factor in the case:
Rahmaan Mohammadi’s teachers at Challney High School for Boys in Luton referred him to police under Prevent – the controversial government anti-radicalisation programme, which critics have claimed is heavy-handed, discriminatory and ineffective.
As well as wearing pro-Palestine badges and wristbands, Mohammadi was in possession of a leaflet advocating Palestinian rights by pressure group Friends of al-Aqsa. He had also asked for permission to fundraise for children affected by the Israeli occupation.
The child had a pamphlet in his belongings from the well-known UK based non-profit, Friends of Al-Aqsa, (FOA) a BDS supporting NGO with an international support base that’s been around for almost 20 years. With 12 UK locations FOA describes itself as “concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem.”
Mohammadi described his experiences at a meeting of campaign group Students Not Suspects at Goldsmiths University in London. He alleged that police warned him not to talk about Palestine in school, and further claimed that staff members had approached his 14-year-old brother and pressured him to to tell Rahmaan to “stop being radical”.
The anti-terrorism police force, after visiting the child’s home determined that Mohammadi– whose age was not given– was not-at-risk! While this case was pursued on alleged radicalization grounds, boycott is coming under greater and greater pressure from the British government and they are now set to criminalize support for BDS.
International Business Times reports, UK government plans to block boycott of Israeli goods and products:
A senior UK minister is expected to announce plans of a government attempt to prevent local authorities from participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel. Under the new guidance, NHS trusts, councils, universities, student unions, and other public bodies will be prevented from boycotting foods and products from Israel.
Matthew Hancook, Cabinet Officer Minister, will provide details of the new regulations during a visit to Israel this week. The new legislation will reportedly make it easier for the government to challenge organisations that boycott Israel…..
The new regulations will mean that any organisations imposing boycotts against Israel would likely be taken to court over it. All public authorities would fall under the regulations and be prevented from imposing a boycott against any countries signed up to the World Trade Organsiation government procurement agreement.
The International Middle East Media Center reports Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, condemned the move as “a gross attack on our democratic freedoms and the independence of public bodies from Government interference”.
“As if it is not enough that the UK Government has failed to act when the Israeli Government has bombed and killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and stolen their homes and land, the Government are now trying to impose their inaction on all other democratic and public bodies.
“This makes it clear where this Government stands on international law and human rights. Despite the Government admitting that Israel’s occupation and denial of Palestinian rights is plain wrong and illegal – when it comes to it they will insulate Israel from the consequences of its own actions. It seems that for this UK Government, whatever crimes against international law Israel commits, having a military ally trumps the rights of their own citizens and institutions in this country to support human rights.”
Sara Apps, interim Director of Palestine Solidarity stated:
“If the Israeli Government want to be free of the pressure of boycott, divestment and sanctions and international censure the answer is simple – end your illegal occupation and abide by international law.
“It is shameful that our Government is prepared to side with an oppressive state over the rights of an oppressed people in this way. We urge people to support our campaign to change Government policy and support the rights of their citizens to act against human rights violations.”
Because boycott campaigns are– you guessed it, anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times of London reports the UK government’s new policy follows “[M]ounting concern among Jewish leaders about anti-semitism.”
Matthew Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister, who will give details of the new regulations on a visit to Israel this week, said such boycotts were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fuelling anti-semitism. The rules will allow the government to act against organisations that impose boycotts and make it easier for others to take such bodies to court.
The move is likely to be controversial, with critics portraying it as an attack on local democracy. The regulations will prevent any public authority from imposing a boycott on a country signed up to the World Trade Organisation government procurement provision.
Meanwhile, Friends of Al-Aqsa, the NGO whose pamphlet alarmed school authorities to such a degree they sent an anti-terrorism force to the child’s home, lists several “Aims & Objectives“, none of which appear to be either extreme, anti-Semitic, radical or dangerous to society:
The following aims and objectives are being pursued using all the available peaceful, legal and democratic means:
(a) Highlighting Human Rights abuses suffered by the Palestinians
(b) Putting pressure on the British government to make Israel respect International Law and human rights
(c) Bringing the Palestinian issue to the attention of those concerned with International Law, human rights and UN Resolutions
(d) Mobilising international condemnation for Israel’s apartheid policies to be manifested through the boycott of Israel
(e) Educating people on the issue of Palestine through conferences, lectures and publications
(f) Emphasising the significance and the centrality of the al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic faith and the Muslim identity and re-affirming the Muslim historic and religious rights to the area
(h) Working in conjunction with international heritage, cultural and humanitarian organisations in joint ventures to advance these aims
With these assaults on censorship on both sides of the Atlantic; new UK regulations in the works, recent U.S. Senate passage of anti-BDS Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, BDS facing attacks in six state legislatures, the recently introduced “Combating BDS Act of 2016”, as well as the constant and persistent suppression of pro-Palestine student advocacy, one might think they could finally squash the BDS movement once and for all. But they can’t, the more they fight against us the more the resistance thrives.
Thanks to Cathy Hutton