Communal leaders have criticised the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK (BLMUK), after it claimed politics is “gagged of the right to critique Zionism”.
The Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl criticised the movement over a tweet on Sunday, saying it was “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.”
However, the failings of this particular group will not stop us standing alongside black people in their quest for justice, whether inside or outside our community.”
A source at the Board added: “The far right and far left are desperate to divide black and Jewish communities. We are not falling for it.”
The Jewish Leadership Council tweeted: “We unequivocally support the fight against anti-black racism. That people suffer abuse & prejudice because of the colour of their skin is abhorrent & we are actively involved in this fight as a community. But please do not fight racism with racism – we must be allies”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said BLM “should embrace solidarity from Jews” and “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. You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.”
Taking to Twitter, BLMUK told its near 60,000 followers: “As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades. FREE PALESTINE.”
The tweet has so far been retweeted more than 21,000 times.
Following criticism, the movement added a series of subsequent tweets, including one citing Jewish activists who reject the “cynical and false accusations of antisemitism that dangerously conflate anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid”.
Earlier this week, more than 1,000 European politicians signed a letter against annexation, started by senior Israeli figures. Signatories from the UK include included Lord Carlile, Dame Margaret Hodge, former Tory leader, Lord Howard and Baroness Neville-Jones.
This follows a clash during a Board of Deputies meeting last Sunday over the BLM movement, after Gary Mond, deputy for JNF, urged the community not to support groups accused of using reactions to George Floyd’s death for “twisted goals”. He was criticised after saying that black lives matter, as well as “Asian lives, African lives, Jewish lives and all lives”.
Other deputies, warned the phrase “all lives matter”, a slogan commonly associated with critics of the Black Lives Matter movement, risks trivialising the experiences of people of colour.
The Black Lives Matter UK movement has been approached for comment.