Arab League tells Germany to cancel anti-boycott action

The Arab League yesterday demanded that the German parliament cancel a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel as antisemitic.

The Arab League’s assistant secretary-general for Palestinian affairs, Saeed Abu Ali, said the motion was “regrettable … unjustified … (and) biased” in favour of Israel and called on the parliament to: “reverse this erroneous step and support the Palestinian people’s right for liberation.”

The Bundestag, which passed the non-binding resolution on Friday, also pledged to reject any financial support for BDS and to refuse to allow BDS and its partners to hold events on its premises.

The resolution, which was backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc, the centre-left Social Democratic Party, the liberal FDP and the left-wing Greens, stated: “The campaign’s calls to boycott Israeli artists, along with stickers on Israeli goods that are meant to dissuade people from buying them, are also reminiscent of the most terrible phase of German history. The BDS movement’s ‘Don’t Buy’ stickers on Israeli products inevitably awake associations with the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t Buy from Jews!’ and similar scrawls on facades and shop windows.”

The boycott movement is an international network of organisations and individuals promoting a range of measures against Israel, Israeli organisations, companies, cultural bodies and Israeli citizens. The movement calls for the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and it opposes any ‘normalisation’ between Israelis and Palestinians. It describes Israel as an ‘apartheid state’ established through ‘settler colonialism’ and rejects a negotiated two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people.

The UK Government has passed anti-boycott regulations. In February 2017 the Government updated its procurement guidance to make it clear that public authorities should not implement or pursue boycotts other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.

In 2015 France introduced legal measures against boycotts which extend anti-racism laws to circumstances where specific nations are targeted for discriminatory treatment.

Last week, BICOM published a research paper about the boycott movement which can be read here.