German parliament declares Israel boycott campaign antisemitic

May 17, 2019 Off By readly

Germany’s Bundestag has become the first parliament in Europe to pass a motion that defines the BDS movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as antisemitic.

The non-binding motion, which was passed on Friday afternoon, argued that the campaign to boycott Israeli artists and goods was “reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in Germany history” and triggered memories of the Nazis’ slogan “Don’t buy from Jews”.

Brought to parliament as a joint initiative by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its junior coalition partner the Social Democrats, as well as the liberal FDP and Green party, the motion also noted a “growing unease” among Germany’s Jewish community in the face of rising antisemitism.

According to new figures published by the German interior ministry’s annual report on Tuesday, antisemitic crime and hate crime rose by about 20% in 2018, to 1,800 incidents.

The motion was criticised in an open letter signed by 60 Israeli academics, who said it formed part of an alarming trend of “labelling supporters of Palestinian human rights as antisemitic”.

The conflation of BDS and antisemitism, the letter warns, is supported by “Israel’s most rightwing government in history” and forms part of a strategy to delegitimise any attempt at international solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

A separate motion brought forward by the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) called for a complete ban of the BDS movement. Jürgen Braun, an AfD delegate, claimed that his party was the true party of “Israel’s friends” in the German parliament, adding that “antisemitism comes from the left and Islam”. The AfD abstained on the government’s motion.

The government’s annual report found the radical right to be responsible for about 90% of the antisemitic offences.

Leftwing party Die Linke also said it rejected the BDS movement, but refused to lend its support for the governing parties’ motion. In a separate motion, Die Linke called on the government to support a peaceful two-state solution in the Middle East.

BDS, which was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, has claimed several recent successes in isolating Israel. Last year, the singer Lana Del Rey joined 19 other artists in dropping out of a summer festival in Israel, following a similar move by the New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde months before. BDS currently calls on artists and music fans to avoid the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, arguing that it amounts to “whitewashing” Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

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