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October 6, 2022 4:35 pm

Spanish Government Rules BDS is Discriminatory


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Session of the Cortes Generales. Photo: Ministry of Defense/Flickr.

Spain’s fight to eradicate antisemitism notched two significant legal victories this week.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Spain ruled that the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel is discriminatory, upholding a lower court decision from a case the Action and Communication on the Middle East (ACOM) brought to nullify “Apartheid Free Zones” established in 2016 by the City Council of Reinosa in Cantabria when it endorsed BDS.

On Wednesday, the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s parliament lower house of parliament, advanced legislation that would ban organizations engaging in antisemitic activities as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism from receiving public grants and government contracts and subsidies. The IHRA definition includes instances of anti-Zionism among its examples.

If passed by the Senate, the bill, first proposed by the Assembly of Madrid, will effectively prevent pro-BDS groups from receiving state support.

“We are delighted with the decision by the Spanish Parliament to take a strong stand against BDS and declare its activities as antisemitic,” ACOM president Angel Mas said in a statement issued on Thursday. “Moreover, together with the Supreme Court decision, a strong message has been delivered that BDS is discriminatory and antisemitic. I am not sure there has been a more forceful legislative and judicial push back against BDS anywhere in the world where this antisemitic movement exists.”

The move comes after the head of the city government in the Spanish capital Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, urged in July that the promotion of the boycott campaign against Israel be considered a hate crime.

According to El País, members of the left-wing party, Unidas Podemos (United We Can), largely opposed the bill, with 33 voting against it and 7 abstaining. Members of three other parties, Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left of Catalonia), EH Bildu (Basque County Unite), and BNG (Galician Nationalist Bloc) refused to vote.

In June, the parliament in the Spanish region of Catalonia voted in favor of a resolution denouncing Israel as an “apartheid” state and urging international sanctions against Jerusalem.

“This initiative speaks perversely of the explicit will to censure NGOs and administrations,” Unidas Podemos Deputy Antoni Gomez-Reino said after it passed. Accusing Israel of “violating human rights,” he demanded that it be sanctioned.

In response, People’s Party Deputy Pilar Marcos affirmed the measure’s role in “the strategy against antisemitism,” an initiative motivated by the European Union’s call for all member countries to adopt the IHRA definition.

“Antisemitism today hides under the cloak of anti-Zionism and the denial of the existence of the State of Israel,” Marcos said.

On Thursday, ACOM commended the parliamentary groups that voted in favor of the bill for “showing moral compass in the commitment against antisemitism in all its manifestations.”

“We hope that this great step taken worldwide against antisemitism will prevent these exclusionary associations and activities from receiving public subsidies and aid,” it said. “To this end, it is imperative that in the next parliamentary step…this momentum against antisemitism is not delayed with amendments that dilute a real and unique problem.”

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