Black Lives Matter UK have issued a new statement claiming the movement has become the victim of “media antisemitism slurs” a day after it sparked fury by suggesting politicians were “gagged” from criticising Zionism.
In an article written on its official website on Monday, BLMUK also insisted it was still “not known” whether George Floyd died in America as a result of restraint methods taught to police by Israel.
The group also accused the media of ignoring “blatant racism by Labour staffers” against black Labour MPs, as revealed in the leaked report into Labour antisemitism.
An article headlined ‘BLMUK, Palestine and media antisemitism slurs’, which was posted on the blacklivesmatteruk.com website, attempted to respond to widespread criticism of the group following a series of social media posts on Sunday.
One tweet posted by BLMUK 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.”
The Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl led the criticism of the posts, 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.”
But Monday’s article on the BLMUK website said: “Criticising the state of Israel is not antisemitic and we support BLMUK’s call for solidarity with the Palestinians.”
It added: “This anti-BLMUK witchhunt weakens the fight against all forms of racism.
“Of course the focus of the black lives matter movement is on fighting anti-black racism but we see the connections to other forms of racism.
“Attacking BLMUK for standing up for Palestinians is an attempt to weaken the anti-racist movement, and this would appear to be the aim of much of the media and the right in this country.”
Responding to the false claim that Israel was ultimately responsible for the death of George Floyd, the article added: “As Amnesty International has pointed out, Israeli police forces have played a key role in training militarised US police forces.
“Whether this involves training in the restraint methods used to kill George Floyd is not known but we note that this specific allegation has been denied by the Israeli state.”
It failed to add that Amnesty had themselves backed away from the false allegation that the Israeli secret service had trained American police to kneel on a person’s neck when making an arrest.