‘Continuing to Reject All Calls to Boycott Israel’: Germany Dismisses UN Criticism of Anti-BDS-Law

Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO on 17 November, 2019

 By Benjamin Brown • 8 March, 2020

The German government has dismissed criticism by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Michelle Bachelet on its anti-BDS law, stating it would continue to reject “all calls to boycott Israel” and condemn “every form of anti-Semitism,” according to German media reports.

Bachelet’s office in October criticized the German government for an Anti Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution it passed in May last year, claiming that it hinders the freedom of speech in Germany.

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In a letter sent to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and signed by five UN Special Rapporteurs, the OHCHR expressed its concern that the resolution would diminish the right of free expression of political opinion in Germany.

The UN body in Geneva had requested the German government will ensure that BDS activists can openly speak about alleged human rights abuses.

The German Foreign Ministry has now responded to Geneva’s letter, stating the law was merely a “political declaration” and individual rights would not be interfered with, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.

The government explained that it supported the “important work” undertaken by organizations to support and protect human rights and worked towards a “peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

While criticism of Israel was not per se anti-Semitic, Germany would continue to raise its voice at those questioning Israel’s right to exist, the letter read.

The Anti-BDS resolution passed by the German Bundestag, the federal parliament, defines the methods and underlying ideology of BDS as anti-Semitic and hostile to the State of Israel. In line with previous resolutions passed by municipalities around the country, the federal government prohibits the use of state funds to support organizations or events which call for a boycott against Israel.

The BfV, Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Greman equivalent of the FBI, is currently investigating whether the BDS movement in Germany should officially be monitored and considered a threat to the ideals of the constitution. Following the classification of the movement as anti-Semitic by the government, this step is considered highly likely.

Bachelet served as President of Chile from 2006-2010 and 2014-2018. She served as Executive Director of UN Women in between her presidencies before assuming office as High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018.

The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel under the label of non-violent resistance to the so-called “Israeli occupation”. Critics, including the German federal government, accuse the movement of fostering modern anti-Semitism and hostility to the State of Israel ultimately aimed at the destruction of the State.


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