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The resolution adopted by the German parliament on May 17th, 2019, classifying and condemning BDS as antisemitic, has been met with a large-scale media campaign seeking to condemn and delegitimize this important move. In a major article with six co-authors, the German news magazine ‘Spiegel’ attributed the resolution to a conspiracy campaign manipulated by the Israeli government.

The goal of the nefarious conspirators, according to this narrative, was to ban all criticism of the Israeli government and its policies, repeating the standard attempts to equate BDS with legitimate criticism.

Other German and European media, as well as left wing media platforms in Israel, such as ‘Ha’aretz’, joined the fray, in some cases, adding harsh personal attacks on specific individuals to score political points and frighten opponents in this all-out ideological battle. Similarly, a group of seven Israeli political NGOs (many, not coincidentally, funded by German and European government frameworks ostensibly to promote human rights), made a public appeal, endorsed by the Palestinian BDS movement itself, calling on the Bundestag to repeal this resolution.

What Took Germany so long?

However, the text of the German resolution is hardly surprising or revolutionary. The Parliament of Canada, based on across the spectrum, endorsed a similar resolution, while successive governments from different parties have made similar findings about BDS, as have the US Congress, the European Parliament, and other democratic institutions. In fact, one might ask why it took Germany so long, given its dark history and the spread of the anti-Israel form of antisemitism in that country.

In the Bundestag resolution, as in other contexts, the linkage is explicitly justified through the working definition of antisemitism, published in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Germany, as one of 35 countries that are members of the IHRA, has simply given expression to this commitment, and the resolution correctly quotes from the IHRA document.