Germany to adopt motion defining BDS as anti-Semitic

Germany's Bundestag expected to become first major European parliament to define BDS as anti-Semitic.

Ben Ariel ,

BDS activists
BDS activists

Germany's Bundestag is expected to adopt on Friday a motion defining the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic, Haaretz reports Thursday.

If approved, it will mark the first time a major European parliament defines the movement as anti-Semitic.

The proposed motion, backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party, as well as social-democrat SPD, the Green Party and FPD, also calls on the German government to refrain from funding or supporting any groups that "question Israel's right to exist." However, it is not binding.

It stipulates that in light of the Bundestag’s recognition of the importance of combatting anti-Semitism, Germany must resolutely condemn calls to boycott Israel.

The motion says that the BDS movement’s "Don't Buy" stickers evoke a Nazi slogan, "Don't buy from Jews." The motion also states that the German parliament "welcomes the many municipalities that have already decided to refuse financial support to the movement" and "strongly condemns campaigns against the sale of Israeli products or for boycotting prominent Israeli individuals", according to Haaretz.

A clause ensuring that criticism of Israeli policies remains legitimate, as long as it doesn't call for boycott, has been removed from the motion, the report said.

The vote has stirred public discourse in Germany, with some critics claiming the proposed motion is draconian, suppressing pro-Palestinian groups' freedom of expression. A group of about 50 Jewish academics from Germany and Israel has published a petition opposing it.

The German government has stressed the importance of fighting anti-Semitism in recent years as reports find that it has been on the increase in the country.

A report released last summer found that Germany had seen an increased number of attacks on Jews during the first half of 2018.

Earlier this week, German security officials said that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the country rose by 19.6% last year.

In November, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what she called a "worrying" resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany.

In 2017, Germany formally accepted the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance’s definition of anti-Semitism in a move designed to provide clarity for the prosecution of related crimes.

In addition to classic forms of anti-Semitism, the definition offers examples of modern manifestations, such as targeting all Jews as a proxy for Israel, denying Jews the right to a homeland and using historical anti-Semitic images to tarnish all Israelis.