Jewish groups speak out after Black Lives Matter claims politicians are 'gagged' from criticising Israel

Gabriella Swerling
It comes after Sir Keir Starmer last week sacked shadow minister Rebecca Long-Bailey following a meeting with left-wing Labour MPs. - Getty Images 

Black Lives Matter UK announced that it “loudly and clearly" stands with Palestine, after claiming that politicians are "gagged" from criticising Israel.

The official BLM UK Twitter account on Sunday posted the message to its 62,000 followers, which prompted criticism from Jewish organisations.

The tweet said: “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.”

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer last week sacked shadow minister Rebecca Long-Bailey following a meeting with left-wing Labour MPs.

After being elected Labour leader, Sir Keir promised Jewish community groups "actions not words" on anti-Semitism after the party endured a series of allegations under the leaderhip of his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Mrs Long-Bailey was sacked after sharing a story which Sir Keir said contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Jewish groups and some MPs welcomed Sir Keir's decision but Mrs Long-Bailey's allies on the party's left said it had been an overreaction.

However BLM UK did not confirm that its tweet, which has been liked more than 15,000 times, was in response to this. It also did not respond to requests for comment.

The tweet, which sparked controversy on social media, prompted a series of responses.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, tweeted: “I can’t stop thinking about this. 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.

The Jewish Leadership Council added: “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.”

The comments come after Sara Khan, Britain’s first counter-extremism commissioner, said accused far-right activists of hijacking the BLM movement to propagate white supremacist narratives online.

“They’ve been promoting racist extremist narratives, encouraging and inciting hate. Certain far-right actors have been claiming that the Black Lives Matter movement is a war against all white people,” she said. 

Ms Khan, who leads the government’s Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE), told The Observer, “Hate in our country has been spread through the digital space and we’ve got to do far more than we are now. How is it possible that this material is so easily accessible? Sometimes I pinch myself and ask: ‘Is this the 21st century?’”

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