Leicester City Council’s decision to criticise Israel and boycott goods from the West Bank is to be scrutinised in the High Court.
Anti-BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) pressure group Jewish Human Rights Watch were yesterday granted a judicial review of the controversial council motion, passed in November 2014.
The case will now go forward to a full hearing in 2016 – and JHRW have called on the Council to withdraw the much-criticised motion in its entirety.
Rabbi Shmuli Pink, of the city’s Hebrew Congregation, said in December last year that the City Council “can’t internationalise Leicester” and should “focus on harmonising the city”.
Counsel for the Labour-run council told yesterday’s session of the High Court heard the motion did not amount to Council policy, was not binding, and was of no effect.
He was repeatedly asked by Mrs Justice Elizabeth Laing: “If this was the case, what was the point of the motion?”
The judge added the council, unlike the Foreign Secretary, has no foreign policy function.
JHRW is now calling for all other UK councils who have passed similar motions – West Dumbartonshire, Gwynnedd, City of Swansea, Highland, Newry & Mourne, Stirling and Clackmannanshire – to withdraw them.
A spokesperson for the group said in a statement: “We have been deeply concerned about the anti Jewish nature of the BDS movement in the UK.
We here again today commit ourselves to challenge this anti-Semitic movement in local authorities, Universities and anywhere where it promotes anti Jewish hate.”
Leicester City Council’s decision to condemn Israel was at the time described as “blatant anti-Semitism” by local Liberal Democrat councillor and former Leicester Progressive Jewish Congregation president Jeffrey Kaufman.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby had defended the motion, saying it was “not in any way a question of being anti-Jewish.”