Tuesday, January 31st | 10 Shevat 5783

May 16, 2019 5:02 pm

Left, Right and Center Parties in German Parliament Unite to Oppose ‘Antisemitic’ BDS Campaign

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Demonstrators in Berlin brandish Turkish and Palestinian flags as they burn an Israeli flag. Photo: Jüdisches Forum für Demokratie und gegen Antisemitismus.

A coalition of parties from the center, right and left in Germany will come together on Friday to back a parliamentary motion condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign that seeks to cut all commercial, political and cultural ties with the State of Israel throughout the international community.

The non-binding motion, titled, “Resist the BDS Movement — Fighting Antisemitism,” is the joint initiative of the social democratic SPD Party and Green Party from the left, the governing CDU Party and the FDP Party from the center, and the conservative CSU Party from the right, in the country’s federal parliament, the Bundestag.

At the heart of the text is the contention that the Bundestag opposes the BDS movement  — which it defines as “antisemitic” — for the same historical and moral reasons that the legislative body is opposed to other forms of antisemitism.

In practical terms, the motion would prevent “organizations which express themselves in an antisemitic manner, or question the right of Israel to exist” from using “premises and facilities under Bundestag administration.”

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It also urges the federal government to oppose BDS with equal resolve, specifying that no organizations advocating Israel’s elimination or a boycott of Israel should be eligible for state funding.

The German news outlet Der Tagesspiegel reported on Thursday that the impetus for the joint motion came from two FDP parliamentarians, Bijan Djir-Sarai and Frank Müller-Rosentritt.

“This is not about the profiles of individual political parties,” Müller-Rosentritt told the newspaper. “It was important to achieve an agreement across the factions.”

Two parties are, however, excluded from the motion’s sponsors — the communist-leaning Left Party and the controversial far-right AfD party, whose representatives have made several racist and antisemitic comments in public in recent years, and which is formally shunned by both the German Jewish community and the Israeli Embassy in Berlin.

Eva Högl of the left-wing SPD Party said told the same news outlet that the motion reflected a consensus among Germany’s democratic parties that antisemitism must be firmly opposed.

“Antisemitic attitudes must have no place in Germany,” Högl stated. “For years, the BDS movement has been calling for a boycott of Israel in Germany and around the world, using antisemitic methods.”

Friday’s motion comes amidst a flurry of political activity against BDS efforts in Germany, as part of an overall pushback against rising antisemitism.

During the last month, Bundestag members and a leading regional commissioner coordinating official efforts to counter antisemitism have demanded that Germany’s GLS Bank — the country’s most long-established ethically investment bank — close the account of a pro-BDS group calling itself “Jewish Voice.” Earlier this week, one of Germany’s largest political youth movements, ver.di Jugend, disavowed the BDS campaign at its annual conference, declaring that it condemned BDS advocacy in “political, cultural, economic and scientific context[s].”

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