Berlin - The German parliament on Friday became the first in the European Union to pass a symbolic resolution that designates the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement against the Israeli regime as anti-Semitic.
The nonbinding vote said the campaign to boycott Israeli products recalled “the most terrible chapter in German history” and revived memories of the Nazi motto “Don’t buy from Jews.”
“The pattern of argument and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic,” the resolution stated, vowing not to fund any organisations that question Israel’s right to exist, call for a boycott of Israel or actively support BDS.
BDS has had several recent successes. In 2018, nearly two dozen artists pulled out of a music festival in Israel. Most recently, the BDS movement has called on artists and fans to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest because Israel is the host.
The resolution, which mentioned “growing unease” in the German Jewish community as anti-Semitism has increased, was brought to parliament by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party and its Social Democratic coalition partner, as well as the liberal party and the Greens.
Crime statistics published by the German Interior Ministry on Tuesday showed that anti-Semitic crime and hate crime rose by 20% last year.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee said Friday that it “rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism” and condemned what it called an “anti-Palestinian, McCarthyite and unconstitutional resolution passed by the German parliament.”
“We call on people of conscience in Germany and beyond to defend the sanctity of universal human rights and freedom of expression by protecting the right to BDS,” the statement read.
There were other critics, too. Some 60 academics signed an open letter, saying the motion formed part of a worrying trend of “labeling supporters of Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic.”
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel congratulated parliament on its “important decision to recognize BDS as an anti-Semitic movement and that it is forbidden to support it.”
Germany’s Jewish organizations also welcomed the vote.
The far-right Alternative fur Deutschland had put forward a separate motion Friday that called for a ban of the BDS movement.