Newly appointed Business Secretary Sajid Javid has condemned Britain’s National Union of Students for supporting a boycott of Israel, declaring that the group’s recent move to join the BDS movement was not only an isolated view, but one that the government and most of the country did not share.
Addressing UK Israel Business at its annual awards dinner, the Jerusalem Post reports that Javid recalled that last December he had addressed the union and told it that he had “no time for the boycott campaign.”
To prolonged applause, he added: “Today I talk of the idea that underpins the entire political philosophy that I hold – that of free enterprise. It simply does not make sense to say, ‘I believe in the free market,’ so let me be very clear: I do not believe in boycotts, nor, I am proud to say, does my party, my prime minister or, for the most, part my country.”
In a clear message to UK businesses in general, he pledged to do all he could to expand trade, especially with Israel.
“My department… will be working hard to boost Anglo-Israeli trade and investment, and I as business secretary will do anything I can to support and promote it,” he said.
Earlier, he had described the most recent period of trading between the two countries as a “golden era,” adding that what really excited him “are the possibilities for the years that lie ahead.”
Javid also reflected on his long-term appreciation of and support for Israel.
He noted that over the past 67 years, Israel had made business boom in the barren desert.
“It’s one of the many reasons I have long admired the country,” he said. “I [have] traveled there extensively, both for business and with family, and taken a great interest in its affairs.”
He concluded that “the values that make Israel such a success are values that matter a great deal to me. I share Israel’s love for freedom and democracy. I admire its tenacious determination when the odds are stacked against it.”
Last week the National Union of Students approved a boycott of Israel by 19 votes for, 12 against, with three abstentions, and condemned its actions in the West Bank and Gaza.