Boycott recalls Nazism, says Gove


Tory Chief Whip Michael Gove has compared the campaign to boycott Israeli goods with the first stages of the Nazi move against Jews in the 1930s.

Speaking at the Holocaust Educational Trust annual dinner on Tuesday, Mr Gove said: "We need to remind people that what began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives. We need to spell out that this sort of prejudice starts with the Jews but never ends with the Jews."

The former education secretary, who is known as a staunch friend of Israel and a long-standing admirer of the Jewish community, cited the CST's recent figures showing a record level of antisemitic incidents and warned of the return of a "resurgent, mutating, lethal virus of antisemitism".

Mr Gove also attacked the boycott movement and said that legitimate criticism of Israeli policies is too often conflated with straightforward antisemitism. A line has been crossed, he said, when banners at pro-Palestinian rallies carry slogans such as "Stop Doing What Hitler Did To You" or "Gaza is a Concentration Camp" - words used by Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, to describe Gaza.

Mr Gove argued that some critics of Israel are engaged in a "deliberate attempt to devalue the unique significance of the Holocaust, and so remove the stigma from antisemitism. And even as this relativisation, trivialisation and perversion of the Holocaust goes on, so prejudice towards the Jewish people grows".

Traditionally, the Chief Whip avoids public speeches and controversy. But Mr Gove's remarks to the HET are the strongest and clearest analysis of antisemitism from a member of the government since it took office in 2010.

Mr Gove also said: "We know that the jihadist terrorists … are targeting not just Jews and Israelis but all of us in the West. They hate Israel and they wish to wipe out the Jewish people's home, not because of what Israel does but because of what Israel is - free, democratic, liberal and Western."

Meanwhile, David Cameron this week pledged that "Britain would always be a safe home for Jewish people" in a letter to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to mark the annual High Holy Day Annual Conference of Rabbis.

He wrote: "It is more important than ever that Britain says loudly and clearly that there can never be any excuse for antisemitism."

Home Secretary Theresa May also reiterated the government's commitment to tackling antisemitism, saying "this is not something that should be tolerated".

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