Some 240 Israeli and Jewish academics and intellectuals have sent a letter to the Germany government urging it not to enact in to law a bill that would define the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as “anti-Semitic”.
If it is passed in to law, the currently non-binding motion, which was passed by the Bundestag – parliament – in May, would be the first official law in Europe to classify BDS activity as anti-Semitic.
Despite winning huge support among vast sections of the major parties, including the Social Democrats, the Free Democratic Party, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the law has also drawn a significant amount of criticism and condemnation.
Some 240 Israeli and Jewish academics and intellectuals have sent a letter to the German government urging it to oppose the motion and “not to endorse” it, due to it being “based on the false allegation that BDS as such equals anti-Semitism.”
The letter, which was published in both English and German on BDS Germany’s website, stated that “we all reject the deceitful allegation that BDS as such is anti-Semitic and maintain that boycotts are a legitimate and non-violent tool of resistance.”
They also called on the German government “to maintain its direct and indirect funding of Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organizations that peacefully challenge the Israeli occupation.”
The professors and signatories of the letter included 24 academics from the Hebrew University, 24 from Tel Aviv University, 11 from Ben Gurion University, nine from Haifa University, five from the Weizmann Institute of Science and five from the Open University of Israel.
The opposition did not come without a backlash, however. In response, CEO of the Zionist NGO Im Tirtzu, Matan Peleg, slammed the signatories and accused them of “hypocrisy and ungratefulness”, stating that they “earn their living at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer yet at the same time work to boycott and slander them.”
The BDS movement, which works to discourage the purchasing of products manufactured, grown and exploited from the occupied Palestinian territories, has faced widespread global opposition since its inception in 2007. The suppression of it has been most extensive in the US where 24 states have passed laws against individuals and businesses engaging in BDS activity.