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Rights groups in Israel tell German parliament BDS is not antisemitic

Seven human rights groups said it's a 'disservice to the true fight against antisemitism to equate it with BDS'
Protesters outside Germany's Representative Office in occupied West Bank in May, after Bundestag's condemnation of BDS as antisemitic (AFP/file photo)

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on Sunday tweeted a letter from seven human rights groups based in Israel to Germany’s parliament, saying it was “a disservice to the true fight against antisemitism to equate it with BDS”.

The BDS movement urges the boycott of Israeli goods, services and culture as a means of pressuring Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Germany's parliament on 17 May passed a motion condemning BDS as antisemitic, warning that its actions were reminiscent of the Nazis' campaign against Jews.

On Sunday, the BDS movement tweeted: “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.”

The rights groups include B’Tselem, Gisha, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence and HaMoked, who sent the letter to Germany's parliament on 8 June.

The German MPs, with their vote in May, pledged to reject any financial support for the boycott movement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to praise what he termed an "important decision".

"I salute the Bundestag for the important decision which recognises the BDS as an antisemitic movement," Netanyahu said.

He added that he was particularly pleased with the decision ruling that the movement cannot receive state financing as a move to "stop funding organisations that act against Israel's existence".

Meanwhile, the organisers of a recent Palestinian cultural festival in London, Palestine Expo, said a pro-Israel lobbying group approached the owners of the venue hosting the event to urge them to cancel it.

In a statement, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) said it had contacted the Olympia venue to ask them to cancel the event. When it refused to do so, UKLFI said it had written to Olympia's three German co-owner companies to raise its concerns.

It said it had cited a motion passed in the German parliament in May that condemned the BDS movement as antisemitic.