Dutch party walks back support of BDS

Dutch Green Party says it does not support efforts to boycott Israel following protests over its endorsement of BDS.

Elad Benari ,

BDS activists
BDS activists

The Dutch Green Party has said it does not support efforts to boycott Israel amid protests over its passing last month of a motion endorsing the campaign, JTA reported on Sunday.

In the February 16 motion, Green Left called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel “a legitimate means to help Palestinians in their fight for justice,” vowing the party “will be alert and resist forcefully attempts in any country to criminalize BDS.”

However, following an outcry by Jews and Christians over the endorsement – the first by any Dutch mainstream party – Green Left on Friday released a statement saying that that motion “is not meant as an endorsement of the goals of BDS” and that “Green Left is not in favor of a boycott of Israel.”

The motion, according to the statement, was in opposition to legislation in foreign countries to forbid BDS, which Green Left opposes on freedom of expression grounds.

In 2016, the Dutch parliament passed a nonbinding motion calling on the government to deny funding to organizations calling for a boycott against Israel.

Much like other countries in Europe, the Netherlands has not been immune from anti-Semitic incidents. Just last week, vandals suspected of being soccer hooligans from The Hague painted graffiti, including swastikas and anti-Semitic texts, on buildings in Amsterdam.

Last summer, Dutch police apprehended a man whom they accused of drawing swastikas on the external wall of the capital’s oldest Jewish cemetery.

In January of 2018, police launched an investigation into vandalism at a synagogue and a hospice for people dying of terminal diseases.

A month earlier, a Syrian man waving a Palestinian Arab flag shattered glass at a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam as two police officers and passers-by watched. The officers arrested the man after he broke into the restaurant through the door he had smashed and removed an Israeli flag.

The same restaurant was targeted again in early January of 2018, when vandals smashed the newly-replaced windows. The owners told local media that the restaurant is often the target of such destructive acts, and that they have asked local authorities' permission to place security cameras around the site.