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Top BBC broadcaster calls for boycott of Israeli sports

Gary Lineker arrives at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on the BBC, March 18, 2023. (Photo: PA via Reuters)

A former British soccer star and current high profile BBC presenter Gary Lineker on Saturday retweeted a post calling for a global boycott of Israeli sports.

Conservative British lawmakers and an antisemitism watchdog blasted Lineker who, by Monday morning appeared to have deleted the controversial post.

Originally posted by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, the post urged “all regional and int’l sports bodies to take an urgent stance on Israel’s grave violations of human rights and subject it to legal accountability measures.”

Stephen Crabb, the chair of Westminster’s Conservative Friends of Israel argued it was “deeply inappropriate” for a “BBC figure to endorse and especially for someone of Lineker’s prominence.”

Crabb further stressed the antisemitic nature of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates a total boycott of the Jewish state to demonstrate its ultimate goal of eliminating the State of Israel from the map.

“The BDS movement is riddled with antisemitism from top to bottom and deepens the divisions in our own society,” Crabb stated.

“Given all the problematic questions that have been raised previously about BBC bias during the Gaza conflict, they must not allow high-profile presenters to freelance on these incredibly sensitive issues,” he added.

BBC recently apologized after previously publishing false claims by the terror group Hamas that Israeli soldiers had executed Gazan civilians in December. Earlier in October, the BBC and several other prominent international media outlets initially embraced the false Hamas claim that Israel had bombed a Gazan hospital. The Israel Defense Forces quickly published evidence that the Al-Ma’amadani Hospital had been a misfired rocket launch from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization, a Hamas ally in Gaza.

The conservative Member of Parliament Andrew Percy also condemned Lineker, emphasizing that BDS is a racist movement.

 “The BDS [Boycott Divestment and Sanctions] movement [to boycott Israel] is a racist, antisemitic campaign and nobody who receives taxpayers’ money working in the BBC should be endorsing a campaign that is widely understood to promote Jew hate,” Percy argued.

MP Jonathan Gullis blasted Lineker, arguing that Hamas uses civilians as human shields and executes members of the LGBT community.

“Hamas harms the people they claim to represent, stealing aid off the people of Gaza, using innocent Gazans as human shields, and throwing LGBT+ people off buildings. All this whilst their leaders live a life of luxury in Qatar,” Gullis said.

However, criticism of Liniker was not limited to individual lawmakers. A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, articulated disappointment that Lineker called for a sports boycott of Israel instead of speaking out against the growing antisemitism in Great Britain and around the world.

“Gary Lineker has a lot to say about a lot of things, but antisemitism does not appear to be one of them,” the spokesperson said. “At a time of record levels of racism against Jews, not a peep. But he has found the time to amplify a call to suspend the world’s only Jewish state from international sports. His priorities are clear,” added the spokesperson.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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