German state office says BDS is anti-Semitic

Berlin State Office for the Protection of the Constitution categorizes BDS as anti-Semitic.

Elad Benari,

BDS operatives
BDS operatives

The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel has been categorized as anti-Semitic by the Berlin State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, JTA reported Monday.

In its annual report for 2017, released last week, the office – which monitors anti-democratic activities across the political spectrum in Berlin – describes the BDS campaign as a loosely organized movement, segments of which “question Israel’s right to exist and accuse Israel entirely of racism.”

The report “refers to a grey area” between “legitimate criticism of Israeli politics to anti-Zionist anti-Semitism,” and bases its understanding of anti-Semitism on the working definition proposed by Independent Expert Group on Anti-Semitism of the German Bundestag, and adopted last April.

The report comes almost exactly a year after Berlin Mayor Michael Müller joined with Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and announced plans to block the use of city venues and funds for events by groups that support BDS.

By announcing those plans, Berlin became the third German city, after Munich and Frankfurt, to declare plans to stymie such activities.

A year ago, Frankfurt passed a bill banning funding and rooms for BDS activities.

At the time, Frankfurt Treasurer and Deputy Mayor Uwe Becker said, "The BDS-movement does not only strongly resemble the 'Don´t buy from Jews' argumentation of former times of the National Socialists, but the movement is built on the same toxic ground and it is poisoning the social climate in the same dangerous way."

Germany has seen an increased number of attacks on Jews during the first half of 2018, according to a report last month.

There were 401 officially reported attacks on Jews in Germany from January through June, according to government data, an increase of 10% over the same period last year.

Earlier this year, the German Bundestag approved legislation to establish a new commissioner to handle the issue of rising anti-Semitism in the country.