TEL AVIV – British Secretary of Justice Michael Gove laid into the BDS movement on Tuesday, saying the “campaign indulges prejudice rather than fighting it,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Speaking at a conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin, Gove suggested that the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement feeds anti-Semitism.
“[BDS] calls for the shunning of Jewish academics, the boycott of Jewish goods, the delegitimization of Jewish commerce,” he said at the third Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism. “We have seen these all before. And we know where it takes us.”
Representatives from NGOs along with more than 100 parliamentarians from nearly 40 countries attended the conference.
Gove decried the BDS movement’s engagement with public institutions in the UK.
“We have made clear that local authorities and public bodies cannot adopt BDS policies aimed at Israel; they cannot use public resources to discriminate against Jewish people, Jewish goods, and a Jewish state,” he stated.
He also conveyed a message from British Prime Minister David Cameron, who vowed to fight anti-Semitism.
“Together, we will make sure Britain remains a country that Jewish people are proud to call home – today, tomorrow, and for every generation to come,” Gove quoted Cameron.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the conference on Monday, saying that anti-Semitism in Germany, whether from natives or refugees, must be confronted by both government and civil society.
Merkel added that Jews must feel free to speak up when they fear anti-Semitism, and should be received with sympathy and concern.
Whether it is hate-filled criticism of Israel, or vandalism of cemeteries and synagogues, “anti-Semitism and other prejudices have no place in our society,” Merkel said.
“If gravestones are defaced, then our country itself is defaced. If synagogues are vandalized, this shakes the foundations of our free society,” Merkel said. And protesters who call for the destruction of the Jewish state are simply “giving vent to hatred of Jews.” In so doing, they “abuse the fundamental rights in our country to freedom of association and expression.”
Merkel further defended the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, who was condemned for expressing fears about anti-Semitism among new refugees from Muslim lands.
More than 1 million people have sought asylum in Germany over the past year.
“It is perfectly legitimate for someone to share his concern,” Merkel said, noting that many refugees “have grown up with certain stereotypes.”