Germany draws criticism for resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism

Germany draws criticism for resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism
Germany's Bundestag has become the first European parliament to pass a resolution calling boycotts of Israel anti-Semitic, drawing condemnation from German and Israeli scholars.
3 min read
17 May, 2019
A BDS supporter protests in France [Getty]
German lawmakers have approved a resolution denouncing the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and describing its methods as anti-Semitic, the first European parliament to do so.

The non-binding motion which passed on Friday was filed by the country's three governing parties, along with two mainstream opposition parties. It vowed not to financially support any projects that call for a boycott of Israel, actively support the BDS movement, or "question Israel's right to exist".

It stated that the movement was reminiscent of the Nazi-era slogans, such as "Don't buy for the Jews", and cited "growing unease" among Germany's Jewish community at rising anti-Semitism.

Read more: Criminalising BDS shows us what Israel fears most

The motion was backed by the ruling Christian Democrat party, their coalition partner, the Social Democrats, as well as opposition parties the Green Party and the liberal FDP.

Two other rival motions are set to be voted on on Friday.

One is from the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which calls for a total ban on the BDS movement, and another from the leftist Die Linke party, which condemns "all anti-Semitism" within the BDS movement.

Many groups vociferously condemned the proposed resolutions in the run-up to the vote, calling them draconian and damaging to the Palestinian cause.

A petition signed by some 50 Jewish academics from Germany and Israel condemned rising anti-Semitism globally, while warning against an "escalating trend" in Germany to label defenders of Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.

The scholars highlight the range of respected Palestinian civil society organisations aligned with BDS, adding it would be "highly detrimental to Palestinian society as a whole and to the role and reputation of Germany, if these organizations were to be excluded from German funding – simply for exercising their right to free speech and their choice to resist the entrenching Israeli occupation by peaceful means".

The petition adds that such resolutions would also lead to discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Germany, preventing them from "freely expressing their opinions, their grief and sorrow".

The group also highlight the agenda of Israel's current hardline government, saying: "The equation of BDS with anti-Semitism has been promoted by Israel's most right-wing government in history. It is part of persistent efforts to delegitimize any discourse about Palestinian rights and any international solidarity with the Palestinians suffering from military occupation and severe discrimination."

The Palestinian-led BDS movement has gained worldwide renown in recent years. It advocates non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, universities and cultural institutions.

Inspired by the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, the movement aims to challenge international support for Israeli practices and policies that oppress Palestinians.

Read more: 'Like Apartheid': Spoof Madonna video urges Israel Eurovision boycott

The movement has recently been met with increasing resistance from pro-Israel factions in the US and in the Jewish State itself.

Israel has passed punitive laws targeting the BDS movement, for example denying entry at the border to anyone who has called for a boycott of Israel.

More recently they have extended this to people already legally residing in Israel, including Human Rights Watch's Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, who they have attempted to deport.

Speaking to The New Arab, Shakir said the deportation was a "new and dangerous development" specifically targeting human rights defenders.

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