OpinionBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Will it work in real life?

New German anti-BDS legislation now faces the real test: implementation.

The Reichstag building in Berlin, where the Bundestag meets. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The Reichstag building in Berlin, where the Bundestag meets. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Eldad Beck (Facebook)
Eldad Beck

The legislation that passed in the German Bundestag last week defining the BDS movement as anti-Semitic has great symbolic importance.

For the first time, a country has declared that the boycott movement isn’t simply political, but racist. This important decision is a significant achievement, that can be credited to a few factors.

First, this is a clear implementation of a policy, first outlined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whereby the security and existence of the State of Israel are a top German national interest. The fact that all of the centrist German parties supported this decision further enforces this.

Second, the one who pushed for a clearer definition of BDS as an anti-Semitic movement was none other than the Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against anti-Semitism Felix Klein.

Prior to being appointed to this position a year ago, Klein introduced many pieces of legislation that specifically condemned anti-Semitism, despite numerous challenges he faced, mainly from the German left.

The third factor was Israel: After many long years of ignoring the BDS movement and the monetary and political support it received from certain German groups, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government finally changed its policy.

Directly taking on the boycott movement, it called upon the German government to finally cut off funding to such groups.

There is an additional element at play here, however, that bothers a number of Israelis, and especially top government officials in Jerusalem: the rise of the far-right nationalistic party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The party has helped expose the duality of the German government’s position towards Israel: embracing Israel while simultaneously supporting the Jewish state’s enemies.

The fear that the AfD would raise a draft resolution on BDS created a sense of urgency that spurred the ruling German government to pass the anti-BDS legislation.

Now, after this historic recognition, we will see how things play out. Germany will be judged based on its implementation of this decision.

For example, who will decide now which groups are supporters of BDS or identify with its policies?

Supporters of BDS on the far-left of Israeli and Jewish society have already come together to fight this decision. This development may result in the German authorities trying to find ways to bypass the law.

The new legislation is admirable, but it is still too early to celebrate. Only after we see the law’s implementation will we be able to declare success.

Until then, expect the Israeli supporters of BDS movement, many of whom reside in Germany, to assist the authorities to find ways to bypass this legislation.

This article first appeared on Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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