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Increasing number of Britons opposed to BDS, poll shows

Anti-BDS protest, April 2015
United with Israel
Fifty seven percent of respondents said they regard Israel as an ally of Britain in the Middle East

The number of Britons opposed to economic and cultural boycotts of Israel has soared considerably over the past year, a new poll made public on Friday shows.

Fifty one percent of respondents to a survey conducted on behalf of the pro-Israeli Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) think tank voiced their opposition to the Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, saying they "do not boycott Israeli goods, and find it difficult to see why others would single out Israel given everything else that is going on in the world."

This represents an eight percent rise compared to last year’s survey. Fifty six percent of respondents agreed that a boycott hurts both Palestinians and Israelis, a nine percent increase on last year.

The BDS campaign is a coalition of organizations inspired by the anti-apartheid movement who say they are using nonviolent means to promote the Palestinian struggle for independence and encourage international economic and political pressure against Israel.

The survey was carried out online by Populus, a British market research company, among a nationally representative sample of 4096 adults.

Additionally, it found that 48 percent of Britons believe that "hating Israel and questioning its right to exist" is anti-Semitic, while 57 percent agree that merely criticizing Israel is not an act of anti-Semitism.

Israeli Ambassador to UK Mark Regev commented on the findings, saying "today’s results affirm the strong ties between our two countries. It is encouraging that more than ever, Britons view Israel as their strongest ally in the region. Equally important, most people correctly believe that demonization of Israel is in fact anti-Semitic, and must not be tolerated."

Fifty seven percent of respondents said they regard Israel as an ally of Britain in the Middle East, a five percent increase from October 2015 and the highest figure for countries in the region.

Forty three percent of respondents support the Balfour declaration that indicated Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1917, up from 40 percent the year before.

Commenting on the findings, BICOM CEO James Sorene said: “Our poll show a very significant shift against the idea of boycotting Israel. The majority opposing it has increased by as much as eight per cent over the past year. The British sense of fair play is a clear theme in the poll as time and again respondents reject singling out Israel, given everything else going on in the world."

"In a year where we have seen several public figures attempt to explain their hatred of Israel as a political position, the judgement of the British people is stark," Sorene further added. "They clearly understand that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitism, pure and simple."

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