The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel condemned the German parliament’s decision to pass a bill that designates it as anti-Semitic.
“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,” said the general coordinator of the BDS national committee of Palestine, Mahmoud Nawaja’a. He said the bill was contradictory to international law and German democracy.
The BDS called the resolution anti-Palestinian, McCarthyite and unconstitutional. McCarthyite is a term referring to the witch-hunting of political activists or activities, based on politically motivated accusations. It originates from the anti-communist purge in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s.
The German parliament passed the bill on May 17. No details of the bill were revealed until two days before the vote. The resolution comes in the background of a call for a complete ban on BDS by two far-right wing and pro-Israel parties, the neoliberal FDP party, as well as the racist and anti-immigrant AFD party.
However, all German parties, including the ones on the left, ended up voting in favor of the bill which called for condemning BDS.
The bill made the accusation that “The ‘Don’t buy’ stickers of the BDS movement on Israeli products remind one of inevitable associations with the Nazi call ‘Don’t buy from Jews’ and other corresponding graffiti on facades and shop windows.” It added that the German government would not fund or support organizations involved in the boycott of Israeli products and companies.
The BDS movement was founded in 2005, after 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called on the international community and world governments to boycott and impose sanctions on Israel to put economic and cultural pressure on the country through non-violent means in an attempt to end its more than half a century long occupation of the Palestinian territories. BDS advocates extending equal rights to the Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel. It supports the right to return for Palestinian refugees, and calls for the demolition of the Israeli apartheid wall. It was inspired by the global boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa.
The Palestinian authority (PA) called the German decision to label BDS as anti-Semitic “very dangerous”. The Palestinian foreign ministry issued a statement, saying that the passing of the bill shows that Israel is still forcing its agenda on representatives of European nations. It added that Israel is “blackmailing” the German parliament, using the country’s historic mistake of the Holocaust.
The PA also said that this decision is “turning a blind eye to the fact that Israel is a state of ethnic cleansing and continues committing crimes against the Palestinians without being held accountable.”
The decision “contradicts international legitimacy and its resolution and is considered a flagrant violation of the policies and decisions of the EU,” the statement said.
Eurovision and the Palestinian flag
The bill will passed around the same time as a global campaign against Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision song contest which began on May 14. People’s movements across the globe, along with Palestinian organizations, gave a call to boycott the international song contest for Israel’s attempts to use it for ‘artwashing’ its acts of crimes against humanity in Palestine. During the Eurovision finals on May 19, Icelandic eclectic punk band Hatari held up scarf-sized Palestinian flags. The Israeli broadcaster of the show said that the event’s organizers might take action against the band.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) rules allow disqualification of contestants who do not abide by the requirements for a “non-political event”.
The band’s stance, however, did not win any support from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, which had urged countries to boycott the Tel Aviv Eurovision. The campaigners tweeted, “Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists [Hatari] crossing our peaceful picket line.”