Germany rules BDS movement ‘anti-Semitic’

Germany is the only EU member state equating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement with anti-Semitism.

BDS In Berlin
Protesters in Berlin held up signs that said 'I boycott Israel, but not Jews!' [File: Sean Gallup/Getty]

The German parliament has voted to condemn as anti-Semitic a movement that calls for economic pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian land, grant Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights and recognise the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

In a move welcomed by Israel, a majority of legislators in the Bundestag voted on Friday in favour of a motion to label the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as an entity that uses anti-Semitic tactics to fulfil its political goals.

“The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” read the motion submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners as well as the Greens and Free Democrats.

The motion, termed “Resisting the BDS movement decisively – fighting antisemitism,” calls on the government to “not provide premises and facilities under the administration of the Bundestag to organisations that express themselves in anti-Semitic terms or question Israel’s right to exist.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Bundestag decision to “stop funding organisations that work against the existence of the state of Israel”.

“I hope this decision will lead to concrete action and I call on other countries to adopt similar legislation,” he added.

The BDS movement condemned the motion as anti-Palestinian.

“The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel’s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law,” it said on Twitter.

The latest battle between the BDS and the Israeli government has been over the Eurovision Song Contest final, which takes place in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

In the run-up to the event, the BDS has called on artists, music fans and broadcasters to boycott the event, arguing it amounts to “whitewashing” Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The BDS movement was founded in 2005 after 170 Palestinian civil society organisations issued a call to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel as a form of non-violent pressure in order to make it comply with international law.

It has grown in support over the years, attracting high-profile backers such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Angela Davis and Judith Butler.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies