In Latest Legal Blow to BDS, Spanish Judge Rules City’s Cancellation of Israeli Festival Violated Constitutional Rights
A Spanish court ruled that a city council that nixed an Israeli film festival due to its support of boycotts of the Jewish state had violated four fundamental rights enshrined in the Spanish constitution.
The judicial condemnation came after the City Council of Cadiz, a port town in southwestern Spain, unexpectedly canceled the Israeli Film Cycle in 2017, which was organized in collaboration with the Israeli Embassy in Madrid and set to take place in a municipal building. According to an email authored by the city’s councilor for culture, Eva Tubío, and cited in the ruling, the cancellation was linked to the city’s “Space Free of Israeli Apartheid” pledge — a measure adopted by the council’s Local Government Board in 2016 in support of the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The cancellation — executed under the authority of Jose Maria “Kichi” Gonzalez, the mayor of Cadiz and a member of the far-left Podemos party — was denounced as an “unequivocally antisemitic” demonstration by the Madrid-based rights group ACOM, which took legal action against the city council.
In a March 22 judgement, Judge Carmen Beardo of the No. 1 Administrative – Contentious Court of Cadiz found that the council behaved in a manner that infringed on “the free development of freedom of expression and teaching,” as well as “the right not to be discriminated against for their opinion,” El Mundo reported.
Beardo annulled the cancellation, maintaining that it violated multiple basic rights upheld in the Spanish Constitution, according to the newspaper. These include rights detailed in article 13, which guarantees the public freedoms of foreigners in Spain; article 14, which forbids discrimination “on account of birth, race, sex, religion, opinion, or any other personal or social condition or circumstance”; article 16, which protects freedom of ideology, religion, and worship; and article 20, which covers academic freedom and “the right to freely express and disseminate thoughts, ideas and opinions.” The ruling may still be appealed.
“To advocate the destruction of the State of Israel and limit the civil and economic rights of its citizens, companies and friends threatens fundamental values included in our Constitution and must have consequences,” said ACOM president Angel Mas in a statement celebrating the ruling.
The ruling marks the latest legal challenge faced by the BDS campaign in Spain, whose supporters — many affiliated with Podemos — have passed multiple municipal-level resolutions targeting Israel in recent years. In June, the High Court of Justice in the northwest principality of Asturias determined that a boycott resolution passed by the City Council of Castrillón violated constitutional rights. The same court initially issued a judgement against BDS in 2016.
In August, the cities of Villarrobledo in Castile-La Mancha and Sagunto in Valencia voted to repeal earlier BDS resolutions passed against Israel, after facing legal challenges by ACOM. Both resolutions were initially passed with the support of Podemos.
Formed in 2014 by Pablo Iglesias, a former adviser to late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the party has been accused of receiving funds from Iran and Venezuela, though Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected opening a criminal investigation into the allegations. Iglesias — who has served as the host of the show “Fort Apache” on HispanTV, a Spanish-language news channel owned and operated by Iran — has denied any wrongdoing.