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BDS, Netanyahu, Hatovely, Elkin

PM Netanyahu and Likud members Tzipi Hotovely (L) and Zeev Elkin (R ) tour the Heart of the World organization, which fights BDS groups. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The German government refuses to identify the anti-Israel BDS movement as anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, Jew-hatred is notably on the rise in that country.

The German government has declined to identify the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic.

Green Party MP Volker Beck, who heads the German-Israel Parliamentary group, criticized the government sharply for not recognizing the anti-Semitic motivations behind BDS activity. The BDS movement advocates for a total social and economic boycott of Israel. 

Beck was responding to a legislative questionnaire aimed at determining the German government’s attitude towards anti-Semitism. The Merkel administration said that it defined anti-Semitism as “political, social, racist and religious” hostility towards Jews. According to the government, BDS is not anti-Semitic under this definition. 

“Here the federal government has cowered,” Beck stated. “There is no doubt of the anti-Semitic motivation within the spectrum of the BDS campaign. BDS aims essentially against Jewish Israelis and is therefore anti-Semitic. Whoever aggressively boycotts Israeli goods and people should also be viewed as anti-Semitic by the federal government.” 

Until 2013, the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights specifically included the demonization of Israel and the application of double standards to the Jewish state as forms of anti-Semitism under its working definition for the term. 

Despite legislation prohibiting anti-Semitic activity and Holocaust denial in Germany, anti-Semitism – frequently under the guise of anti-Israel activism – is on the rise. According to government figures, 864 anti-Semitic crimes were registered in the country in 2014, which constitutes a rise of 10 percent. Jewish community leaders report that wearing identifiable Jewish symbols, such as a kippah (religious head covering) or Star of David, is considered a “provocation” in certain areas. The Jewish newspaper Jüdisches Berlin is now being distributed in unmarked envelopes so that its recipients cannot be identified as Jews. 

The Israeli embassy in Germany made waves last week when Ambassador Ya’akov Hadas gave German journalists a sampling of the anti-Semitic letters and e-mails he receives at a rate of approximately 20 per day, including messages such as, “I’m happy Hitler destroyed you.”

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