Germany Designates BDS Movement as Anti-Semitic

BERLIN (Reuters) -

The German parliament voted on Friday to condemn the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic.

“The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” read the motion submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners as well as the Greens and Free Democrats.

Securing Israel’s survival has been a priority for Germany since the defeat of the Nazi dictatorship that committed the Holocaust in which some six million Jews were murdered.

Israel Katz, Israel’s acting foreign minister, welcomed the Bundestag decision, saying on Twitter: “The German parliament ruled that it is an anti-Semitic movement that promotes illegal boycotts against Israel. This is an important step, and we hope that other countries in Europe will go in the same direction.”

Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party abstained during the symbolic vote. They had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS movement in Germany. That motion was defeated.

A majority of the far-left Die Linke party had voted against the motion. The party also submitted its own proposal, which called to oppose the BDS and commit the German government to work toward a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on U.N. Security Council resolutions. The motion was also defeated.

The latest battle between the BDS and the Israeli government has been over an international singing contest, which takes place in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

In the run-up to the event, the BDS movement has called on artists, music fans and broadcasters to avoid the event, arguing it amounts to “whitewashing” Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in Yehudah and Shomron, and the Gaza Strip.

With Friday’s Bundestag motion, Germany has effectively backed Israel’s position that international boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.

The motion said a BDS campaign calling for Israeli products to be labeled with “Don’t Buy” stickers was reminiscent of the Nazi-era boycott of Jewish businesses, known in German as “Judenboykott”, which used slogans such as: “Don’t buy from Jews.”

Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, welcomed the Bundestag decision, writing on Twitter that the motion “has broader European significance given that BDS makes no attempt to build coexistence and peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.”