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May 27, 2016 2:32 am

Let’s Take BDS to Court

avatar by Judith Bergman

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The European Court of Human Rights.  Photo: wiki commons.

The European Court of Human Rights. Photo: wiki commons.

The tactics of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement out to destroy Israel turn out to be in violation ‎of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is largely held in higher esteem than the Bible is in ‎Europe.

While this is hardly a surprise to those who still have their logical faculties intact, in the morally ‎skewed and ethically challenged world that our generation inhabits, it is unfortunately necessary to have ‎a court adjudicate that singling out the Jews — for the millionth time in world history — for discriminatory ‎and hostile treatment is not the humanitarian thing to do.‎

It was judges on the panel of a Spanish administrative court who ruled that boycotting Israel is not compatible with the ECHR, as well as being in violation of the Spanish constitution. ‎

The ruling came in a case brought before Administrative Law Court No. 1 of the city of Gijon recommending the ‎legal invalidation of four points of a resolution adopted on Jan. 13, 2016, by the Gijon city council. In ‎these points, Gijon is declared free of alleged “Israeli apartheid” and the city council undertakes to ‎introduce legal measures to prevent public procurement and to avoid entering agreements with ‎companies that allegedly violate international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In ‎addition, they also pledge that the city will cooperate with the BDS movement against Israel. ‎

The pro-Israeli group ACOM brought the case before the court. In its ruling, the court stated that the ‎boycott constitutes “infringement of the fundamental rights of equality and nondiscrimination on the ‎grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion, or convictions expressly proscribed by our constitution as well ‎as by international treaties.”‎

A motion similar to the one passed in Gijon was defeated last week by a majority of delegates in ‎Tarragona, an eastern Spanish city with 130,000 residents. Tarragona is the fifth Spanish municipality ‎where BDS motions have failed in recent weeks, while motions supporting an Israel boycott have passed ‎in four Spanish municipalities.‎

The tide of BDS rises and falls, almost habitually by now, across municipal city councils all over Europe. ‎Sometimes the motions calling for BDS fail and sometimes they pass, all depending on the political ‎makeup of the city council and the extent of virulent anti-Israeli sentiment among its members. Such a ‎situation, naturally, is untenable and ridiculous. City council members should not be allowed to vote on ‎and subsequently implement discriminatory and frankly racist motions, which contravene international ‎treaties and national constitutions, prohibiting city authorities from procuring Israeli goods and services ‎based solely on how anti-Semitic the composition of their city council is. ‎

The answer to this tide, of course, is to stop the BDS malaise from spreading once and for all. BDS is ‎already illegal in some European countries, such as France, but it seems to make little difference in the ‎overall European picture, where BDS motions still flourish. What is needed is a final judicial ruling on the ‎utter illegality and incompatibility with human rights legislation from the highest authority on this issue in ‎Europe, namely the European Court of Human Rights. ‎

This court, based in Strasbourg, rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and ‎political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998, it has sat as a full-time ‎court and individuals can apply to it directly.‎

The judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are binding on the countries concerned and have ‎led governments to alter their legislation and administrative practice in a wide range of areas. This is why ‎bringing the question of BDS before the European Court of Human Rights could prove to be a very ‎powerful step against BDS, literally outlawing the movement across the European continent in one sweep ‎with an authoritative ruling that would render the BDS movement’s purpose and actions in contravention ‎of the European Convention of Human Rights.

While there is, of course, always the risk that the European ‎Court of Human Rights would not find the BDS movement in violation of the convention, this is a result almost impossible to imagine. The BDS movement is so blatantly in violation of human rights ‎legislation that the continuing presentation of BDS motions before city councils is shocking. It is, at the same time, a stark testament to the extreme spread of anti-Semitism across ‎the European continent and the almost natural way in which it has become an acceptable feature of the ‎political life on the continent.‎

As for the practicalities of bringing such a case before the European Court of Human Rights, this is ‎naturally a matter for the lawyers. It is a venue that must be explored as a means to shutting the BDS ‎down and officially exposing it, on European soil, as the racist and illegal movement that it is and as the ‎very antithesis of everything for which the European Convention on Human Rights stands.‎

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom. 

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