Germany becomes first parliament in Europe to call BDS anti-Semitic

Germany becomes the first parliament in Europe to denounce Israel boycott campaign as anti-Semitic after saying it triggers memories of Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews’

  • Governing parties back motion condemning Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions 
  • The Left Party and Alternative for Germany opposed the Bundestag motion
  • Israeli foreign ministry spokesman hoped other countries would follow suit

German MPs have become the first in Europe to denounce the boycott of Israel as anti-Semitic after saying it was reminiscent of the Nazi-era slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews’.

The non-binding motion, passed on Friday, said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign was ‘reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in history’.

It urges the German government not to support events organised by BDS or other groups that actively pursue its aims and vowed that parliament wouldn’t finance any projects that call for a boycott of Israel or actively support the movement. 

German MPs have approved a resolution denouncing the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel and describing its methods as anti-Semitic

The motion was brought by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrat Union party and its coalition partners the Christian Social Union of Bavaria and the Social-Democratic Party.

Two opposition parties also backed the motion, which passed by a large majority.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Twitter that the motion represents ‘an important step which we hope will be adopted by other European legislative bodies.’

The BDS movement has grown in popularity overseas in recent years. 

It advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli businesses, universities and cultural institutions.

Comparing it to the past anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, supporters of BDS say it is using nonviolent means to resist unjust policies toward Palestinians. 

Israel says the movement masks its motives to delegitimise or destroy the Jewish state.

The German motion stated that ‘the pattern of argument and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic.’

‘The campaign’s calls to boycott Israeli artists, along with stickers on Israeli goods that are meant to dissuade people from buying them, are also reminiscent of the most terrible phase of German history,’ it added.

 ‘The BDS movement’s ‘Don’t Buy’ stickers on Israeli products inevitably awake associations with the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t Buy from Jews!’ and similar scrawls on facades and shop windows.’

The lower house in Berlin voted down two rival motions. One, from the Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, called for a ban on the BDS movement. 

The other, from the Left Party, condemned ‘all anti-Semitism’ in BDS calls for boycotts.

AfD, which opposes immigration, has itself been accused of playing down Nazi crimes.

Helge Lindh, a lawmaker with the governing Social Democrats, said: ‘We clearly say no to AfD’s cheap attempt to instrumentalise anti-Semitism for its anti-Muslim racism.’

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