We recently discussed the highly disturbing cases of 12 protesters who called for the boycotting of Israeli products. France’s Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation) upheld the shocking prosecution of the twelve anti-Israel activists in a blow to free speech. Now, England is moving to bar local councils, public bodies and even university student unions from boycotting “unethical” companies.
All “publicly funded institutions” will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn denounced the plan as “an attack on local democracy” and the denial of the right of people . . . to decisions free of central government political control. That includes withdrawal of investments or procurement on ethical and human rights grounds.”
The move appears to reflect a growing support for the boycott. In April, a French-owned multinational water, energy and waste management company, Veolia, closed done its operations in Israel. Whatever the merits of the movement, the question is whether the government should be moving to penalize those groups which support the movement. The sponsors insisted that support for the boycott “undermined good community relations, poisoned and polarised debate and fuelled anti-Semitism.” Of course, there is less debate when you bar support for one side of the dispute.
What do you think?