Many people of opposing political views in this country may be forgiven for finding the manner in which Boris Johnson conducts his politics affable and even quite comical. However, his conduct during his visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories this week has been nothing to laugh at. One of the front runner’s to be this country’s next Prime Minister has clumsily bounced around the region making an offensive remark here and reciting anti-Palestinian propaganda there.
The Mayor of London said, whilst in Israel:
“I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say that you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done. [Israel] is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist, open society.
Why boycott Israel?
And, by the way, I think there’s some misunderstanding over here about it. The supporters of this so-called boycott are really just a bunch of corduroy-jacketed academics from lefty… not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a corduroy jacket I hasten to say, but they are by and large lefty academics who have no real standing in the matter and I think are highly unlikely to be influential on Britain. And this is a very, very small minority in our country who are calling for this.”
He later made similar remarks in a speech he was giving and, for seemingly comedy purposes, he added the word “snaggle-toothed” into his stock playground insult for those of us who do not find the daily persecution the Palestinian people face trivial enough to mock.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK made an excellent point:
“Boris Johnson, who was in Tel Aviv today in an attempt to attract Israeli business to London, described Israel as a democracy and a pluralist society.
For Johnson’s benefit, here are some basic definitions:
Pluralism: A conviction that various religious, ethnic, racial, and political groups should be allowed to thrive in a single society.
Democracy: a system of government in which all the people of a state or political entity are involved in making decisions about its affairs.
Doesn’t sound much like Israel to us. ‘Apartheid regime’ would have been a better definition for Mr Johnson to use.”
We would also like to make another correction to Boris Johnson’s childish attempts to belittle British people helping to fight the tremendous injustices inflicted upon the people of Palestine. As a group fully immersed within the UK movement supporting Palestinian rights, we are much more qualified to comment on what sort of people support boycotting Israeli goods in the hope it will go some way to stopping Netanyahu’s continued attempts to strip Palestinians of the their land, their dignity and their rights. People from all walks of life, with a wide range of political views, wearing all sorts of jackets, with all sorts of occupations, some with snaggled teeth and some without, identify the injustices imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli government. Would Mr Johnson care to speculate on the state of the teeth, the material of the jacket, the political beliefs and the occupation of all of the 41% of Britain’s under-30 Jewish population who say they would support sanctions against Israel to advance peace, as reported by The Jewish Chronicle this week?
To dismiss us who oppose Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians as purely being ‘lefties’ is a deliberate attempt to marginalise the movement through black propaganda. Even a party further to the right of the political spectrum than his own, UKIP, have a Friends of Palestine group.
The fallacious and offensive remarks by Boris, who also represents Uxbridge and South Ruislip as their MP, has meant his trip to occupied Palestinian areas has been cut short after a Palestinian youth group cancelled its invitation to meet him. Wouldn’t you do the same if the person you had invited had basically implied you didn’t exist?
Boris also won’t be attending an affordable housing event or a meeting with businesswomen because of his remarks, after the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah warned him that his security “would be at risk” after his mindless and fictitious comments.
With George Osborne losing political capital by the day over his delayed plans to cut the tax credits of the working poor and Teresa May increasingly shifting herself too far right of the electorate, Johnson seems like the current most likely candidate to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister before the next election, however his disastrous trip has proven why he lacks the suitability, sensitivity and knowledge (or can be too easily swayed to ignore his knowledge at the bidding of a foreign government) to represent our country on the world stage.
As entertaining as he may be on Have I Got News For You, what Palestinians are subjugated to is not a comedy panel show, and Mr Johnson should stop treating it as such. What it is, is persecution. History will not show Boris to be right, history will show Boris in the same light as those promoting trade with apartheid South Africa and the segregationists of the American Deep South. Because, what if he is right? If Israel setting up an apartheid state in the West Bank and using economic and military aggression to render the Gaza Strip uninhabitable for humans and most animals make it a “pluralist democracy”, then we cannot support any so called “pluralist democracy” of that ilk. And if doing all you can to bring peace and equality to all peoples within the region makes us snaggle-toothed, corduroy jacketed, academic lefties then what fabulous news for dentists and corduroy manufacturers, because there are millions of us and we are growing.