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The Bundestag. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters
From the field

Human rights organizations based in Israel voice concern before Bundestag president over motion defining BDS as antisemitism

About a month ago, we wrote along with six other human rights organizations based in Israel to Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the Bundestag (the German federal parliament), to express serious concern regarding the recent motion adopted by the Bundestag that condemns the BDS movement and even wrongfully equates it with antisemitism. Israeli officials welcomed the motion after lobbying for it as part of a campaign to silence criticism of Israel's policy of occupation, human rights violations, and shrinking space for civil society.

In the letter, a copy of which was also sent to the German Minister of Foreign affairs Heiko Maas, the executive directors of B'Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence and HaMoked, state: “Although we ourselves are not part of the BDS movement, we are extremely concerned about the growing trend to claim that those who support Palestinian human rights are antisemitic, and we totally reject the idea that BDS as such is antisemitic. In fact, the BDS movement explicitly opposes all forms of racism, including antisemitism.”

The letter continues: “Antisemitism is real and present. It ought to be fought – and defeated – wherever it occurs. But it is a disservice to the true fight against antisemitism to equate it with BDS, which is a nonviolent tactic and movement initiated by Palestinian civil society, and supported by tens of thousands of people internationally, as part of the struggle to end the Israeli occupation and to act for equality, freedom, dignity and justice for all Palestinians.”

By equating BDS and antisemitism, the letter states, the motion echoes the position of the Government of Israel, which has been working hard to use false accusations of antisemitism to discredit the Palestinian struggle for freedom – while at the same time cynically associating itself with some of the most ultra-nationalist political parties in Europe, including ones with clear racist roots. Doing so is consistent with the Government of Israel's unacceptable strategic goal, of maintaining perpetual occupation over millions of Palestinians with no political rights, while silencing any form of opposition to this injustice.