The official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) UK movement has today been caught up in an antisemitism row after it tweeted in support of Palestine over plans by Israel to annex its West Bank settlements.
The verified account claimed mainstream British politics were being ‘gagged of the right to critique Zionism,’ before Tweeting that the movement ‘loudly and clearly stands beside our Palestinian comrades’ and adding in block capitals ‘FREE PALESTINE’.
But the Tweet has sparked outrage among the Jewish community, with some describing the idea of politicians being ‘gagged’ over their criticism of Zionism as being an ‘antisemitic trope’.
Today the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, criticised the tweet, describing it as ‘beyond disappointing’.
The official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) UK movement has today been caught up in an antisemitism row after it tweeted in support of Palestine
The tweet comes amid plans by Israel to annex its West Bank settlements. Pictured: Palestinian labourers queue to enter Israel
The official Twitter account for Black Lives Matter UK tweeted in support of Palestine today, sparking outrage from some Twitter users
She told the Jewish News: ‘It is beyond disappointing that a supposedly anti-racist organisation has leaned into the antisemitic trope that British politics is “gagged” in terms of debating Israel, a claim particularly preposterous because Israel is one of the most-discussed foreign policy issues in this country.’
Today the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism also issued a statement attacking the BLM UK tweet.
The charity said: ‘The Black Lives Matter movement should embrace solidarity from Jews.
‘From the official UK BLM we hear the lie that fighting antisemitism “gagged” legitimate debate
‘Zionism is the movement for the self-determination of Jews. The right to self-determination of peoples is universal and enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter.
‘So called anti-Zionism exclusively denies Jews that right and is therefore antisemitic.’
‘BLM should aspire to be a movement against racism that unifies people and achieves lasting change, not a movement that spreads hatred and achieves lasting division
The statement added: ‘You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.’
Another to criticise the Tweet was Lance Foreman, former Conservative MEP for London.
He said: ‘You say that British politics is “gagged of the right to critique Zionism”. NO IT IS NOT!!! But if anyone tries to critique the BLM organisation, that’s where people are gagged. Your tweet is hypocritical, antisemitic and racist. Withdraw it.’
Another user, who described herself as a British Jew, said: ‘Throughout the BLM protests, I’ve listened, I’ve bought books to understand better, I’ve considered how I could personally make positive changes.
‘But when it comes to antisemitism no one does the same As a British jew I find this tweet incredibly upsetting.’
Meanwhile, Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, called for the BLM UK account to explain the tweet.
She said: ‘It’s irresponsible, disappointing and dangerous to post something like this to thousands of followers who sincerely want to fight racism. “Gagged”? Gagged by whom? The insinuation is depressingly clear. You can’t fight racism with racism.’
But others have come out in support of the Tweet.
One twitter user, a Black Lives Matter supporter, said: ‘I agree it is not ideal language but please don’t let that distract from the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement.’
Another said: ‘Hope Palestinians will find peace in their lands,’ while another added: ‘This isn’t antisemitism, nobody mentioned Jews. This is about Israel and the Israel lobby.’
The Twitter row comes amid growing debate over plans by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said earlier this month that he is planning to effectively annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
From July 1, the Israeli government aims to take its first steps toward implementing part of a US-proposed Middle East peace plan that paves the way for annexing key parts of the West Bank, including settlements long considered illegal by the majority of the international community.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that he is planning to effectively annex parts of the occupied West Bank
The controversial plan also envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, but on reduced territory and the Palestinians have rejected it outright.
The West Bank, which is on the west bank of the River Jordan and is mostly bordered by Israel, has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
As many as three million Palestinians live there under both limited self-rule and Israeli military rule.
Around 450,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank in settlements – which much of the international community say are illegal.
Annexation, which is forbidden under international law, would bring those settlements under Israeli sovereignty.
Israel deny the plan amounts to annexation and say Palestinians living in the areas under its plans would not come under Israeli rule.
The West Bank, which is on the west bank of the River Jordan and is mostly bordered by Israel, has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war. As many as three million Palestinians live there under both limited self-rule and Israeli military rule
Israel deny the plan amounts to annexation, which is illegal under international law, and say Palestinians living in the areas under its plans would not come under Israeli rule
But the plan has sparked controversy across the world, including in the UK, where this week Labour’s Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, called on Britain to ban the import of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank region.
The UK Black Lives Matter group is a semi-official offshoot of the American organisation, which has protested anti-racism and police brutality in the US following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an incident in May.
But while the UK’s group has also protested anti-racism in the UK following Mr Floyd’s death, it has listed its other objectives on its GoFundMe page.
In a statement on the page, which has raised more than £1million, it says: ‘We’re guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world.
A source recently told The Guardian newspaper that Black Lives Matter UK is being run by ‘a core of around ten activists’ including a man called Joshua Virasami (pictured), ‘who has been with the movement since its incarnation’
‘BLMUK organises in the black radical tradition, using political education, direct action and political leadership toward black liberation.’
The Black Lives Matter organisation in America does not cite ending capitalism as a policy goal.
Those behind the UK organisation are not known, though a source recently told The Guardian newspaper that Black Lives Matter UK is being run by ‘a core of around ten activists’ including a man called Joshua Virasami, ‘who has been with the movement since its incarnation’