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Germany becomes the first European country to declare BDS movement antisemitic
by Helen Mitchell | Jun 25, 2019 | BDS, Israel
In a recent landmark vote, the German Bundestag passed a motion ruling that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel equates to antisemitism.

The motion requested all German government agencies to withdraw support – financial or otherwise – from organizations connected to BDS or those that question Israel's right to exist.

The BDS campaign, which drew inspiration from the South African anti-apartheid movement, has caused significant damage to innocent Israeli business and individuals. Last year, 20 artists, including the singer Lana Del Rey, withdrew their participation from an Israeli summer festival following pressure from BDS activists.

Members of the BDS movement also harassed and demonized artists who performed in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, held in Israel.

In Germany, antisemitic and hate crime saw a 20% increase in 2018, rising to 1,800 incidents.

Alarmed by these trends, a coalition of German parliamentary parties including Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) brought forward the recent anti-BDS motion. It declared that the boycott and economic sanction of Israeli artists and products was "reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in German history" and brought to mind the Nazi policy of outlawing trade with Jews.

The motion also referenced the "growing unease" felt by Germany's Jewish population in the face of increasing antisemitism.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the German parliament's ruling and wrote in a tweet: "I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision branding the boycott movement as an antisemitic movement and announcing that it is forbidden to fund it. I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation."

But why is Germany the only country in Europe to make this official stand against BDS and what will it take for other parliaments to follow suit?