Bundestag’s Resolution on BDS Sparks Widespread Outrage

The Bundestag’s adopted a resolution equating the BDS movement with anti-Semitism. This step infused extreme and immediate reactions across the Palestinian and Israeli political and civil society landscape, as much of the activists brace for what it might mean in the future.

The German parliament adopted a nonbinding resolution that equated the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement with anti-Semitism on Friday. The resolution, which received broad support from the ruling CDU and its partners in government, SPD, as well as opposition parties, FDP and members of the Green Party, is considered the first of its kind by a major European parliament, according to Haaretz. [1] In its text, the resolution compares the boycott movement against Israel with Nazi era “Don’t Buy” stickers and slogans that called for boycotting Jews. The resolution came ahead of two other resolutions that failed to pass the vote on Friday; the first by the far-right AfD, which called for outlawing BDS; and the other by Die Linke that condemns “anti-Semitic incidences” in the movement.


Unsurprisingly, the resolution produced a spectrum of reactions inside Israel and Palestine that ranged from welcoming to anger and outrage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hoped that this decision will pave the way for other countries to follow suit, while his ambassador to Germany congratulated the Bundestag on its resolution. Other Israeli law makers expressed differing viewpoints. Michal Rozin (MK – Meretz) called it “disturbing and destructive for the possibility of peace” as well as “legitimizing a right-wing and problematic conflation (between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism)”. [2] Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, called the comparison between the calls to boycott Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany and BDS “intolerable”, “infuriating” and a “denial of history”. Similarly, Gideon Levy stated that the resolution has turned Germany into “an agent OF Israeli colonialism”. Ilana Hammerman addressed the German Members of the Bundestag saying: “You don’t have the right to define me as anti-Semitic because I believe that under the current circumstances, sanctions and boycotts are the only effective, nonviolent tool remaining to force Israel to let go of the occupied territories”.[3]


Palestinian reactions were those of outrage and, in some cases, despair and disappointment. Officially, the PLO’s Executive Committee called the resolution an “attack on the Palestinian people and its unalienable rights”[4] and described it as “a racist violation of international law”. The EC’s official statement continued to describe the BDS movement as a part of the Palestinian people’s struggle against occupation. In parallel, Dr. Jamal Al-Muhaisen a member of the Central Committee of Fateh Movement called the decision “complicity with racism and occupation and a blow to international law”. His fellow Fateh leader Dr. Nabil Shaath expressed his disappointment in the Social Democratic Party’s endorsement of the resolution calling it “a regrettable and negative move by the party towards the Palestinian cause”. Leaders of other political parties expressed similar sentiments. For example, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti called the resolution “detrimental” and a “slander of the boycott movement”.


The Palestinian civil society had equally strong denunciations of the resolution. In a statement signed by seventeen organizations and civil society networks, representing hundreds of Palestinian NGOs, Palestinian civil society argued the legality of the BDS movement under international freedom of speech. They also argued for the bases of its objectives within accepted international humanitarian law and UN and UNSC resolutions and that it “opposes as a matter of principle all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”. The statement presented a list of demand to the German Bundestag to withdraw its resolution, refrain from passing it into law, end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and end Israel’s impunity in violating international law. The statements also called on the Bundestag to form a fact-finding mission to investigate the serious and detrimental implications of the occupation, while imploring the international community to denounce the Bundestag’s resolution. [5]


It remains to be seen what impact the resolution will have on German relations with Palestinians.


1. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-german-parliament-passes-motion-condemning-bds-as-anti-semitic-1.7252038 

2. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-german-parliament-passes-motion-condemning-bds-as-anti-semitic-1.7252038

3. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/bundestag-members-am-i-anti-semitic-1.7281535 

4. www.plo.ps 5. http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/targets/third-party-states/1414--qq- 


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