Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

German lawmakers vote to brand BDS anti-Semitic

The move is the latest legislation against the BDS movment

Lawmakers at the German Bundestag or federal parliament at the Reichstag building in Berlin. AP
Lawmakers at the German Bundestag or federal parliament at the Reichstag building in Berlin. AP

Germany's parliament on Friday passed a bill to brand the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel for the occupation of Palestinian lands as anti-Semitic, warning that its actions were reminiscent of the Nazis' campaign against Jews.

The Bundestag condemnation came with Israel battling a growing chorus led by the BDS movement to shun the Eurovision Song Contest which Tel Aviv hosts on Saturday.

US superstar Madonna has signed a contract to perform during the interval of the high-profile event, it was finally announced on Thursday, ending uncertainty after calls for her to boycott the event.

In its rare multi-party resolution, the German lower house said that the campaign run by the BDS was "reminiscent of the most terrifying phase of German history" under Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

"'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," said the non-binding resolution.

"The methods" of the BDS movement "are anti-Semitic," added the resolution put forward by Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right CDU-CSU bloc, coalition partner Social Democratic Party, plus the liberal FDP and the Greens parties.

With the vote, German MPs pledged to reject any financial support for the boycott movement.

The Bundestag will also refrain from allowing BDS and its partners to host events on its premises.

A majority of the far-left Die Linke party voted against the motion. The party also submitted its own proposal, which also called to oppose the BDS but would commit the German government to working towards a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on UN Security Council resolutions. Its motion was also defeated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to praise what he termed an "important decision" in passing the bill.

"I salute the Bundestag for the important decision which recognises the BDS as an anti-semitic movement," Netanyahu said.

The BDS movement describes itself as a Palestinian-led action, and urges the boycott of Israeli goods, services and culture because of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Bundestag is not the first legislature to take moves against the BDS movement. The US Senate passed legislation in January to allow states to pass laws to punish companies and organisation that refuse to do business with Israel. The bill is currently with the House of Representatives. At least 26 states already have such legislation and some force government employees and public servants to sign a contract saying they will not boycott Israel as a condition for employment. Such legislation is being challenged on the grounds of free speech.

However, Ireland and South Africa have passed legislation supporting the BDS movement and in 2018 the northern Spanish region of Navarre passed a motion supporting the cause and called on Madrid to suspend relations with Tel Aviv until it “ceases its policy of criminal repression of the Palestinian population.”

Updated: May 18, 2019 11:56 AM

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