Yesterday afternoon, and speaking to a standing room only Committee room in the European Parliament courtesy of our Co-sponsors Anna Michelle Asimakapolou MEP, Anna Fotyga MEP and Traian Basescu MEP. The Minister, joined by the EU’s Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting anti-semitism Katharina Von Schnurbein, and again by Secretary Carr and Rabbi Margolin outlined their concern at the rise of antisemitism and at rooting out the boycott movement as fundamentally anti-semitic. There followed a q&a with a distinguished audience of parliamentarians, diplomats and Jewish leaders and orgnasiations from across the continent.
Brussels 8 July. A triumvirate of Brussels-based Jewish and Israel advocacy groups have begun building a Europe-wide army of young and engaged activists, beginning with a Bootcamp that began on Sunday and concluded today (Monday 8 July).
The intensive two-day course from Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA) with partners European Jewish Association (EJA) and the European Centre for Jewish Students (ECJS) brought young activists and want-to-be activists to the European Union’s capital from Iceland to Romania and everywhere in between.
With expert speakers from StandWithUs, the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and media experts from the Guardian newspaper and Euronews, participants got stuck into the basics of lobbying and media relations, whilst Swedish Israel advocate Saskia Pantell sharing top tips on best practice and winning on social media.
A gala dinner took place where participants heard from holocaust survivor and president of the Jewish Forum in Antwerp, Regina Suchowolski-Sluzny and watched videos of good and bad interviews and Palestinian children’s tv segments versus Kazakhstan’s infamous Borat.
The participants represent the first draft of a new “officer corps” of young activists, who will go back to their countries and advocate for Israel, build local armies and effectively counter anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic narratives, and will be regularly briefed and trained on best practice and campaigns from Brussels and from Israel, as well as sharing knowledge and supporting each other.
EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said in a statement after the event:
“Our Bootcamp was an intensive course in advocacy. Across Europe, with rising antisemitism directly linked to rising antizionism, the stakes have rarely been higher. The picture from the youth in Scandinavia was particularly shocking. We wanted to inspire, to show these brave young activists that they are not alone, that there is support and to help them build networks, not only for mutual support, but for best practise in countering these antisemitic narratives.
“The bootcamp is the start of a long journey for these young “soldiers”, and one that wil help them lead, encourage and inspire others in the months and years ahead.”
The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill on Wednesday that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.
Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said, “The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement with its messages uses the same language the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”
The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.
The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “antisemitic BDS activities.” The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.
The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.
Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”
The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.
Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.
He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.
Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.
Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”
He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think. No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”
Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”
The anti-BDS motion is a setback for BDS activists.
Germany’s Christians Democratic Union party on Wednesday passed a resolution opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement because the anti-Israel action is antisemitic.
“Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called to not buy from Jews. That is nothing other than coarse antisemitism,” the CDU said.
The CDU likened BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the “new clothes of the 21st century” as anti-Zionism, the party said.
“The German CDU declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as antisemitic. The CDU will decisively oppose every hostile action that Israel faces.
The CDU professes its deep friendship toward Israel and continues to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” the resolution read.
Uwe Becker, the chairman of the CDU branch in Frankfurt, which formulated the resolution and submitted it at the CDU conference, said he was pleased with the result.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was nominated at the convention to run as the party’s candidate in next year’s federal election. The CDU’s resolution appears to be the first German party motion to reject BDS and classify the anti-Israel movement as antisemitic.
Last week, Israel’s ambassador to Germany criticized BDS activities in the state of Lower Saxony.
Writing in the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung daily, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman said: “In Oldenburg a teacher agitates against Israel in an official way; in a magazine of the GEW labor union [the Education and Science Workers Union]. This teacher publicly spreads the proposal to relocate Israel to Baden-Württemberg” in southeastern Germany, wrote Hadas-Handelsman.
The ambassador cited additional outbreaks of contemporary antisemitism in Lower Saxony and asked: “What is wrong in Lower Saxony?” The administration of the Social Democratic Gov.