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May 14, 2018 4:36 pm

Students at Top German University Denounce ‘Antisemitic’ BDS, Vote to Withhold Funds and Space From BDS Advocates

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Heidelberg University. Photo: Jan Beckendorf via Wikimedia Commons.

The Student Council of Heidelberg University in Germany adopted a proposal on Tuesday denouncing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as “antisemitic.”

The measure — which passed by a vote of 16 in favor, 15 against, and 15 abstaining — will prevent organizations that advocate for BDS from being given university funds and rooms to host gatherings, according to the Youth Forum of the German-Israeli Society at Heidelberg, which submitted it for consideration.

BDS falls under modern definitions of antisemitism, including those put forth by the former European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and Nathan Sharansky’s 3D Test of Anti-Semitism, the resolution argued. It “denies Israel’s right to exist (delegitmization), demonizes Israel with false comparisons to colonialism and South African apartheid, and finally calls for a collective punishment of the Israeli population by cultural and scientific boycotts.”

The initiative also drew support from the university’s Department of Political Education and the Federation of Jewish Students at Baden (BJSB).

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“The adopted motion is an important and necessary consequence of the existing position against any antisemitism of the Student Council, by making it concrete in relation to BDS,” Victor Márki, a spokesperson for the Youth Forum, said in a statement. “The student council thus strengthens our backs in our commitment against Israel-related antisemitism at our university and in our city.”

“Many universities have already shown that the BDS campaign promotes the exclusion of Jewish students,” Márki added. “Therefore, the decisive action of the Student Council in Heidelberg against BDS must also serve as a model for other universities and cities.”

The move was also applauded by Naomi Ellenbogen, vice president of the BJSB.

“Today, the Student Council has sent out a message that we must not pay lip service in the fight against antisemitism, but oppose it concretely and emphatically,” Ellenbogen said.

Founded in 1386, Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany and one of its most prestigious. The city of Heidelberg drew condemnation from Jewish and Zionist groups in November, after its adult education center gave space to a BDS advocate.

Last week’s resolution was not the first passed by a student council in Germany, The Jerusalem Post reported. In August, students at Goethe University in Frankfurt likened the BDS campaign’s tactics to those adopted by Nazis against Jews. In 2016, Leipzig University’s student council voted “to condemn the antisemitic BDS campaign,” and expressed opposition to “antisemitic measures such as disinviting Israeli academics.”

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