Brussels, June 21st, 2016 – The European Coalition for Israel has launched a petition, which can be found here, calling upon the European Parliament for a resolution against BDS and all other forms of antisemitism, following a recent ECI report to the European External Action Service (EEAS), EU’s diplomatic service, which highlights how EU funding is continuing to be used for payments to convicted terrorists and radicalisation within the Palestinian Authority territories. The launch of the petition coincides with the first official state visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to Brussels this week.
“The international campaign to isolate and demonise Israel by the BDS movement and the on-going Palestinian incitement of hatred against Jewish people are two expressions of antisemitism to which we cannot afford to turn a blind eye”, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell said in a statement in Brussels on Tuesday.
Last month, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) reached an agreement on a working definition of antisemitism, which gives governments and international institutions the political tool necessary to fight the rise of antisemitism. Although the definition does not specifically mention BDS by name, it defines antisemitism as “denying the Jewish people the right to self determination, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”, which is how BDS refers to Israel, as an “apartheid state”.
Several European governments have officially condemned the BDS movement for singling out Israel for boycotts as illegal under WTO regulations. Furthermore, the French High Court has declared BDS activities to be discriminatory and to constitute incitement. New studies confirm that BDS activities on college campuses are followed by an increase of anti-Semitic incidents.
ECI’s Petition is supported by a number of civil society organisations and MEPs from the four largest party groups. The Vice-Chair of the EU Delegation For Relations with Israel, MEP Bas Belder (ECR) from the Netherlands stated that several Member States of the EU nowadays take a strong stance against BDS and recognize its true discriminatory nature. In my capacity as an MEP, I will use all my political weight to ensure that in future EP resolutions concerning the conflict, a strong stance against against BDS will be taken. ”
MEP Lars Adaktusson from Sweden (EPP) stated that “BDS does not promote peace and reconciliation but rather confrontation and separation. The European Parliament should promote closer cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians – not further separation and isolation”. MEP Péter Niedermüller from Hungary (S&D) added that “the boycott and the unequal treatment of Israel do not bring peace to the Middle East, and do not help any of the parties. If we truly want to promote human rights and dignity to all people, not only there but here in Europe too, we need more dialogue, empathy and openness, instead of hate.”
Further, MEP Hannu Takkula (ALDE) from Finland has stated in support of the petition that “BDS is anti-Palestinian, anti-Israel and anti-peace. The European Parliament should condemn these activities and instead support efforts that promote peace and understanding between all parties involved”.
In May, in a conference inside the European Parliament, the Chair of the EU Delegation with Palestine applauded the efforts of the BDS movement and likened the presence of Israelis in the European Parliament to a “rash”. MEP Martina Anderson went on to compare Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza with the Nazi Holocaust, clearly violating the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz has promised in the past to expel members who deny or trivialize the Holocaust. MEP Anderson’s justification of BDS, as well as her inappropriate remarks, are a clear example of the need for an anti-BDS resolution by the European Parliament, which makes clear that incitement and boycotts against a WTO member state are illegal.
“No continent understands what the singling out of Jewish businesses leads to better than Europe. This is why we urge the European Parliament to take the moral leadership in standing up against BDS and all other forms of antisemitism, in order to stay true to our commitment of Never Again”, concluded ECI Founding Director, Tomas Sandell.