Why Cameron won’t stop boycott of Israel

David Cameron and his colleagues have defended war crimes ordered by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Number 10/Flickr)

Palestine solidarity activists are mobilizing against the UK government’s efforts to stop local councils divesting from weapons producers and firms that assist Israel’s crimes.

A “public consultation exercise” has been called to solicit views on efforts by the ruling Conservatives to override decisions by city and regional authorities if they clash with British foreign or security policies.

Activists who regard the efforts as an attack on local democracy have set up an online forum, through which UK residents, can take part in the consultation exercise. The consultation — called by the central government — will close on 19 February.

The Conservatives have made it clear that the proposals are in response to measures introduced by various councils against firms doing business with Israel.

When announcing them in October, the Conservative government issued a statement complaining that “hard-left foreign and defense policies” were “on the rise.” Among the examples it cited was a 2014 decision by Leicester City Council to boycott goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The proposals indicate that Israel’s supporters are perturbed about the growth of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. They follow a successful mobilization targeting Veolia, a major corporation that has been involved in building a light rail network for Israel’s settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. Veolia has been excluded from municipal contracts collectively worth billions of dollars because of decisions taken by councils in the UK and further afield. Because of that pressure, Veolia was forced to sell its investments in Israel.

Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, has said he wants to stop authorities where the rival Labour Party has a majority from influencing the UK’s international relations. At an event held last year by Conservative Friends of Israel, a lobby group within his party, Hammond said: “Under a Conservative government, our foreign policy will be made in the Foreign Office and not in hundreds of Labour-controlled town halls.”

War on Want, part of the BDS movement, has formed an alliance of organizations that oppose the Conservative’s plans. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is part of that alliance, too.

Shielding arms dealers

The ad hoc alliance also includes activists on climate change, who are concerned about the initiative’s potential implications. Environmentalists across the world have been calling on public authorities to divest from the oil industry and other major polluters.

The Conservatives have stated, too, that they wish to halt measures against weapons-producers. The Conservatives have specifically referred to a campaign aimed at ensuring that local authority pension schemes divest from BAE Systems.

As well as selling to and investing in Israel, BAE has provided many of the weapons that Saudi Arabia has used in recent attacks on Yemen.

Many local authorities in the UK have voted to divest from fossil fuel companies or to exclude the arms industry from their pension schemes.

This is not the first time that Prime Minister David Cameron and his colleagues have tried to denigrate the Palestine solidarity movement.

Free expression

Prevent, the government’s flagship “anti-terror” policy, has previously been used in such a way. It obliges teachers to report children who they regard as susceptible to radicalization.

Under Prevent, a 15-year-old boy was reportedly accused by the police of holding “terrorist-like” beliefs after he had worn a “Free Palestine” badge.

The Conservatives’ efforts are part of a bigger international push to counter the BDS movement. France has effectively criminalized protest actions that urge a boycott of Israel. And the US is seeking to have provisions that would outlaw a boycott of Israel inserted in a planned trade agreement with the European Union.

Cameron and Hammond have been staunch defenders of Israeli aggression, particularly its 2014 attack on Gaza. Privately, Foreign Office staff have said that maintaining strong ties with Israel is now a key priority for the UK.

More than likely, the Conservatives’ efforts will backfire on them. By trying to ban the boycott of Israel, they are turning the surrounding issue into one about freedom of expression. And by assaulting local democracy, they have angered elected representatives across the country.

The Conservatives will not succeed in weakening the BDS movement. If anything, they will make it stronger.




Local councils in the UK have a long history of standing in solidarity with oppressed peoples. The Conservative government has absolutely no prospect of reversing that proud tradition. Criminalising human decency will only bring the BDS movement new levels of support. As the French authorities are discovering, it's one thing to outlaw free speech, and another to enforce that decree. Attempts to ban pro-Palestinian advocacy merely illustrate to society at large why resistance is imperative.


Your link "accused" under Free Expression above tells an appalling tale. I would be curious to hear how Cameron would justify harrassing pupils for "free Palestine" and/or BDS before a UN tribunal. This is so completely unacceptable


Mr.Cameron, do you support Israel and the current status quo? If not, let the best non violent way to stop the brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.


Unfortunately Marina, Cameron does support Israel and the status quo which is why he is trying to stop BDS activity. He and the powers that be, in the US and all over Europe, not to mention more and countries in the rest of the world, are under the jackboot of the zionist entity. Where are all the good men and women of integrity, capable of leading our countries to work together for the good of humanity ?


Please translate to other languages this article as a way to further diffusion. In Spanish, for example, your claim for support can reach much more than in English in whole Latin America and Spain.

Thanks anyway for reaching me by mail. .


Just want to express my support to BDS England , as I do in my country, France.


This action can only help to publicize the plight of the Palestinian people even further. It condemns Britain as undemocratic, and Cameron as another of Netanyahu's poodles.


Iagree with j sherglad.


The defense of basic humanitarian principles and of the democratic right to self-determination, national independence and human rights are concentrated in the movement to defend the people of Palestine.

I am the author of "The Hidden History of Zionism," the Report for the United Nations on arbitrary imprisonment, torture and unbridled abuse of the Palestinian people in 3 jurisdictions, later expanded into a widely discussed book by Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman entitled "Prisoners of Israel.

We urge the British government to respect these rights and those of their own citizens who, as matter of conscience and democratic entitlement, support the international defense of human rights in Palestine and, in particular, the Boycott and Divest movement that has swept the world.


Shame! Shame! on you David Cameron and your colleagues who stand against those who are victims of neo-colonialism. As the daughter of a WWI veteran from N.Ireland who witnessed your government's exploitation of voiceless peoples of the Empire(especially in the Mid-East) I am appalled by your lack of moral clarity.. You are an accessory to
this current abuse and effrontery. You are on the wrong side of history. Palestinians and those who stand with them will never be silensced.


If they are successful criminalizing "decency" (i.e. institutionalizing indecency!), it will simply drive BDS underground and this will add to its appeal as people will individually join in boycotting products and voting against Israeli products etc. etc. BDS will not only be effective strategy but will gain some sizzle as well. That's how it goes: The panic stricken do stupid things that only accelerate the process to which they object. What they should do, if they had any brains (big "if") is co-op the movement. Create a different phony boycott movement that does nothing but uses all the language of BDS and has support from Conservatives and, surprise!, has a deep pocket to pursue its going nowhere program.


I am asking with many others that the British Government supports justice and human rights for the Palestinians. It cannot continue to support Israeli Policy of oppression.


I am in full agreement to support justice and human rights for the Palestinians. I do not support Israel's aggression or their building more settlements on Palestinian land. The Israelis are treating the Palestinians like the Germans treated the Jews in World War II. Where is the Israeli humanity and ability to negotiate with the Palestinians?


Unbelievable!The western countries want to appear as the defenders of democracy and on the matter of the genocide committed by Israel in Palestine support a policy of discrimination and violation of human rights.It' a SHAME!!!!!!!


Sorry my "dear "David Cameron, but if you'll succeed against BDS, I'll work to "Brexit" and boycott GB!


this picture is worth 1,000,000 words. Lookit that shitface grin on Cameron, as he meets his Zionist Master. Just pitiful. There is no limit to the groveling depravity of these bankster-stooge politicians


How can the UK which considers itself a democratic country allow support to a country that professes to be democratic but shows the opposite?


By virtue of his anti-BDS policy, David Cameron makes it clear that his government lends unconditional support to Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. As such, Cameron himself should eventually be charged with complicity in the aforesaid crimes once he is no longer in power and a sitting member of the British Parliament.


There is a reason for the BDS. Israel has been a racist and fascist state since 1948 and has continued to oppress and murder Palestinian's ever since. Israel has been the biggest problem to the peace process, when other countries tried to help, but instead have broken every International law. If the government seriously wants to end the BDS movement once and for all, the best way to do it, is to end the oppression and murder of Palestinian's, and give the Palestain's human rights. Now with the behaviour and attitude of David Cameron, he has become a supporter of fascism, and is responsible for the deaths of so many innocent lives.


David Cameron, who, in the first place, is one of the British people that are famed for believing in and supporting democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights. After all, Mr. Cameron is currently the head of UK government who, while touting the same noble beliefs and support which the British believe in, acts in the opposite direction as he launches attacks on BDS. That is a straightforward paradox (to be polite), isn’t it?
I have few questions to Mr. Cameron: If UK people are under occupation and suffer miseries like Palestinians, then how do you feel towards the XYZ country’s Prime Minister who launches attacks (like yours) against a movement that struggles to express opposition against companies or bodies that support the source of miseries UK suffers from?
Mr. Cameron: your attempts are a breach of democracy and human rights which UK people enjoy and believe in. This Breach hurts the image of your people, your country, and yours before it hurts BDS. Just to remind you that BDS, in its struggle to unmask the real ugly face and nature of Zionist regime that occupies Palestine, has nothing to do with violence or terrorism. Don't you believe that everyone has the right to enjoy freedom of speech and opinion.
And in your Capacity of the head of UK government, I believe that you are supposed to prioritize the welfare of UK and British people. In your attacks against BDS, which interest you prioritized: the interest of UK or the Zionists' regime. Please, submit an honest answer to yourself and loudly to your people.
A lot of issues in Palestinians’ mind about UK role in Palestinians’ cause, but the space is not enough to refer but to a few.
Finally, I would like to remind you and the conservatives that Palestinians could never forget miseries and atrocities that commenced with Balfour declaration. Do you like the History bundle your name with Balfour?


Already, Britain is a disgrace because of its hatred towards war refugees - refugees forced out of their country because of Britain's financing, participation in and financing of wars in the Middle East.
I am sending this article to Brazil, to have it translated into Portuguese, so that the Portuguese-speaking people of Latin America can see for themselves that Cameron backs the apartheid state of Israel, which is a State responsible for terrorism against the people Israel have dispossessed of their homes: the Palestinians. I also support those people here who have urged that the article be translated into Spanish, to share with Spanish-speakers across the world.
Support BDS Movement - support the oppressed ! Shame on you Cameron - you have no ethics, no morality ! Israel is a rogue state ! Convenient that you continue to conflate anti-Israel with anti-Semitism, isn't it - convenient if you are dealing with the uneducated : sadly, for you, we are not all uneducated ! Boycott Israel ! Support the Palestinian People !


England has done so much damage in the ME when building its bloody empire, indeed, it's the root of all the troubles in there and it needs to take full responsibility for it now. England needs to not only support the BDS and stop feeding arms to the area, but find a way to stop the barbarian occupations, dictators killing their own people, and concentrate on finding peace for these people, undoing the horrors they did there, admit all that and offer a huge apology. It's high time England did something right by the millions of lives it destroyed and the wealth it stole. Now couldn't be a better time.


It is clear that business is overriding humanity. especially the arms business. Israel is no different from ISIS. The leaders for decades are war criminals. None of them have been taken to task. The Zionist lobby in UK and Us and also France is very strong. Now these people are expert at duplicity. and Cameron is their instrument in the UK. He is weak , and Hypocritical and an asshole. Unfortunately under him there are many assholes also. Meantime the open prison of Gaza keeps the Palestinians miserable and I feel for them. Remember Sabra and Chatile . the Israelis did not do the dirty work. They got the Christians to do it. Remember the USS Liberty .? The crimes of Israel are building up supported by the west. One day these terrorists will get their just results.
Keep it up lads , With the help of USA we will have another world war.

Michael Deas

Michael Deas's picture

Michael Deas is a Palestine solidarity organiser based in the UK.

He was formerly a campaigns officer with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian civil society coalition that acts as the Palestinian reference of the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. 

You can get regular BDS updates from the BNC by following @BDSmovement. Michael Tweets from @michaeldeas