On May 17, 2019, the German Bundestag passed a landmark resolution defining BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel as antisemitic. The joint resolution, “Stand Resolutely Against the BDS Movement: Combat Antisemitism,” was supported by the CDU/CSU (The Union), SPD (Social Democratic Party), FDP (Free Democratic Party), and Green parties. Crucially, the Bundestag called for ending German government funding to groups that promote BDS, (see below for German funding to BDS groups).
Specifically, the resolution states that Germany will:
- “Combat every form of antisemitism, from the beginning and in all consequence and to condemn the BDS campaign and their call for a boycott of Israeli goods, businesses and of Israeli scientists, artists or athletes;
- Not provide premises and facilities under public administration to organizations that express anti-Semitism or call Israel’s right to exist into question. The Bundestag calls on the Federal Government not to support events of the BDS movement or groups actively pursuing their goals;
- Expresses its support of the Federal Government and the Commissioner for Jewish Living in Germany in their efforts to fight against anti-Semitism and any extremism;
- Not financially support organizations that question Israel’s right to exist;
- Not financially support any projects that call for a boycott of Israel or actively support the BDS movement;
- Call on all countries, cities and municipalities and all public actors to jointly share this stance.”
The equating of BDS with antisemitism echoes the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism (officially recognized by the German Federal Government), which defines attempts to deny “the Jewish people their right to self-determination” and apply “double standards” as antisemitic.
The Bundestag’s decision follows statements condemning BDS made by German municipalities, decision makers, and other local actors. For example:
- In June 2019, Leipzig City Council unanimously declared that it stands resolutely against all forms of antisemitism, including BDS. Leipzig City Council declared that it would no longer allow BDS activists to use municipal spaces for their activities. Christopher Zenker (SPD), chairman of the parliamentary group of the SPD in Leipzig’s municipal council stated that “the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement (BDS) is antisemitic because its sanction and boycott calls are unilaterally directed against Israel and aimed at the annihilation of the state.”
- In May 2019, the City of Bremen’s Senate unanimously decided not to offer BDS a platform, explaining that “These actions against Israel are too often used to spread anti-Semitic resentment and prejudice.”
- In February 2019, the City of Frankfurt’s Mayor Uwe Becker, as well as the mayors of Florida and the Israeli city of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut, announced the establishment of the “Global Mayors Coalition Against Hate, Antisemitism and BDS,” declaring their determination to “condemn all forms of hatred and antisemitism and to consistently oppose the antisemitic BDS movement.” The Mayor of Frankfurt similarly stated in September 2018 that “In recent years, BDS has become more and more of Antisemitic machinery of intimidation, putting massive pressure on artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs forcing them to not cooperate with Israel. In Frankfurt, BDS has no place…there is no room for Israeli hatred and anti-Semitism.”
- In August 2018, the Commissioner for Combating Antisemitism in Germany Felix Klein stated, “The security of Israel is part of the German raison d’être – including the defense of the Jewish state if it is to be delegitimized bit by bit by BDS…The BDS movement is antisemitic in its methods and goals…These are methods from the Nazi era that are unbearable and must not be tolerated.”
- In December 2017, Munich City Council BDS activists would not receive municipal subsidies or be able to use municipal spaces. This decision was confirmed by Munich’s administrative court in January 2019. The Munich’s municipal CSU party stated that “Antisemitism…has no place in our city. We condemn the sentiment of the BDS campaign against Israel.”
- In September 2017, Frankfurt City Council declared that it would no longer allow BDS activists to use municipal spaces for their activities. In January 2018, the Mayor of Frankfurt Uwe Becker stated that the City of Frankfurt would not work with banks that provide accounts to BDS groups. He also referred to BDS as the “antisemitic BDS movement” and urged other local companies and businesses similarly boycott banks with ties to BDS groups.
Translation from German to English by NGO Monitor
List of Germany-funded NGOs promoting BDS, Antisemitism, and/or Denial of Israel’s Right of Exist (amounts in NIS unless otherwise stated)
|NGO||Donor||2018||2017||BDS Activism, Antisemitic Rhetoric and Denial of Israel’s Right of Exist|
|972 Magazine||Heinrich Böll Foundation||42,000||37,800||Search results for original BDS reports on its site returns hundreds of articles such as:
• “Israel crosses the tipping point, becomes an economic liability”; “Hiding from the boycott: An industry of settlement deceit”; “Consensus wisdom: The boycott of Israel is working.”
|Rosa Luxemburg Foundation||58,705|
|Konrad Adenauer Foundation||N/A|
|Addameer||Heinrich Böll Foundation||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• In April 2017, on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Addameer urged “supporters of justice around the world to take action to support the Palestinian prisoners whose bodies and lives are on the line for freedom and dignity” by “join[ing a] BDS Campaign” and “Organiz[ing] an action at HP office in your city to highlight the role of corporations involved in – and profiting from – the political imprisonment of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation.”
|Adalah||Bread for the World / EED*||102,579||474,973||• Supports a “transformation [of Israel] in to a transnational regime in all historical Palestine,” i.e. a one-state formula. (translation by NGO Monitor)
• Adalah regularly presents Israel as a racist and undemocratic state and partners with anti-Israel BDS groups.
• Signed a May 2018 letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling for sanctions against Israel due to the violent riots along the Gaza-Israel border.
• In 2017, Nadia Ben Youssef, then an Adalah employee and director of Adalah’s US “Adalah Justice Project,” explained why Adalah cannot call for boycotts openly, stating “…Adalah as a Palestinian organization based in Israel – because of this law [Israeli Anti-BDS law] has a prohibition on it with regard to the call for BDS. The law says that if you call for boycott- it had creating a new civil wrong, you can be sued in court if you call for a boycott of Israel. So Adalah has pivoted its argument about BDS, for the right to boycott… Adalah support the right to boycott…we believe in the pillars of the BDS movement.”
|Al-Haq||Heinrich Böll Foundation||N/A||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” and BDS campaigns.
• Shawan Jabarin stated in an interview that “While Al-Haq remains committed to solely advocating for a ban on settlement products, examining corporate liability [...], we principally support BDS as a non-violent campaign. We view it as complementary to our work, and see our work as complementary to theirs.”
|Weltfriedensdienst (WFD) (multi-year/ multi-player project 2017-2020)||N/A||N/A|
|Al Marsad||Misereor||1,542,320||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Calls for “a boycott of Israeli products originating from settlements in the occupied Golan.” The group also supports the EU decision to label products from Israeli communities built over the “Green Line” and claims that “illegal imports of settlement products into the EU must come to an end quickly and immediately.”
|Al-Mezan||Medico International||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• In February 2017, as a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), released a statement calling upon “the international community to abide by their international obligations” and “act immediately by imposing sanctions against Israel,” as a result of the passing of the “Regularization Law,” which is “another brazen tool for Israel to confiscate privately held and registered Palestinian property for its illegal settlement enterprise.”
|AlQaws||Heinrich Böll Foundation||N/A||N/A||• Calls for the boycott of Israel from a “Sexual & Gender Diversity” platform.|
|Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA)||Medico International||N/A||$31,200||• Signed a 2005 letter in support of an academic boycott of Israel.
• Signatory to the March 2016 “Palestinian Women’s Call for Worldwide Women’s Endorsement of BDS.”
|Rosa Luxemburg Foundation||$14,601|
|Holy Land Trust||ZFD - Civil Peace Service (multi-year project 2017-2020)||N/A||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Supports anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions), including signing a petition in May 2005 calling for the academic boycott of Israel.
• Supporter of the 2011 Kairos Palestine document (see below).
|I’lam||Rosa Luxemburg Foundation||40,041||• Organizes events promoting Palestinian terrorism as “resistance” and boycotts against Israel.
• Advances the Nakba narrative, delegitimizing and demonizing Israel; see 2014 publication “The Palestinian Nakba in the Israeli Public Sphere Formations of Denial and Responsibility”. According to I’lam, “the practical meaning of the Nakba undermines the moral and ethical foundation of Zionism and, hence, of the State of Israel. It also implies the acknowledgment of stains of guilt for the deliberate process of ethnic cleansing the traces of which are still evident today” (p. 84).
|Hanns Seidel Foundation||31,951|
|Kairos Palestine||ZFD - Civil Peace Service (multi-year project 2017-2020)||N/A||N/A||• The Kairos Palestine Document was drafted in 2009 by a group of thirteen Palestinian Christian clergy. It calls for BDS against Israel, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the continuation of the conflict. Its purpose is to rally churches globally to support BDS, delegitimization, and rationalizes, justifies, and trivializes terrorism, calling it “legal resistance.”
• The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) declared the Kairos Palestine document as “supersessionist” and “anti-Semitic” in its nature.
|Miftah||BMZ – GIZ project 2015-2019 multi-country project||€6,000,000|
Thereof €286,900 for Miftah
|• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Publishes articles that advocate for BDS against Israel, alleging that “the BDS campaign calls for justice first, framing the conflict in terms of colonization, oppression and denial of the basic human rights of the Palestinian people.”
• Miftah published on its website an Arabic-language article in response to U.S. President Obama’s support for Israel and his celebration of the Passover Seder, repeating the anti-Semitic blood libel. The author writes, “the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”
|GIZ - German Agency for International Development||$27,766|
|Coalition of Women for Peace||Bread for the World / EED*||128,346||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Initiated the “Who Profits” campaign “in response to the Palestinian Call for BDS on Israel.” “Who Profits?” is an activist tool and a database that identifies targets for anti-Israel divestment and boycotts.
• At CWP’s 2009 general meeting, the organization passed a resolution to support the Palestinian call for BDS.
• CWP is involved in campaigns against major Israeli banks, the Elbit and G4S security companies, Ahava cosmetics, and Agrexco produce; in support of the Berkeley divestment vote; and a successful divestment initiative with the Norwegian Government Pension Fund.
• In March 2017, CWP signed a letter that the “EU Must Act to Prevent the Further Closing of Civil Society Space in Israel” and “Refrain from any form of upgrade or enhancement of EU-Israel relations in the current context and ensure that respect for human rights and democracy remains a central component in the elaboration of the EU-Israel Partnership Priorities.”
|Kurve Wustrow (multi-year project for a number of NGOs 2017-2020) (Renewed with Youth Against Settlements)||€1,595,600|
|GIZ - German Agency for International Development (multi-year project 2016-2020)||N/A||N/A|
|Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees - PARC||Medicins du Monde France (German contribution)||$657,728||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• According to PARC’s “2014-2018 Strategic Plan,” one of PARC’s strategic goals is “Holding the occupation accountable towards Palestinian rights related to the agricultural sector and rural areas” by “Boycotting…Israelis’ settlement products” and “Supporting the cooperation and coordination with the boycott committees.”
|Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)||KZE through MISEREOR||€346,000||• One of PCHR’s “Recommendations to the International Community” states that "PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime."|
|Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)||Medico International (multi-year project 2014-2016)||N/A||N/A||• Signatory to a 2015 initiative of the BDS National Committee for “the Nakba Day” to “join and build” the BDS movement and to place an embargo on Israel.
• Mustafa Barghouti, president of PMRS, takes part in BDS activities, stating, “We are now in the early stages of a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions directed at this Israeli government for its refusal to abide by international law. Such action successfully overturned Jim Crow laws in the American South and apartheid in South Africa, and we are slowly applying it to Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
|Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)||GIZ - German Agency for International Development (multi-year project 2016-2020)||N/A||N/A||• Main Objective: “Promoting PNGO’s role in supporting the BDS movement.”
• The language of the UK academic boycott movement resolutions was initially taken from PNGO.
• Promotes anti-Israel divestment debates and resolutions among Lutheran, Anglican, and other Protestant church groups.
• PNGO has opposed negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, in part because “at a time when the struggle is intensifying on various levels toward strengthening the boycott campaign, which has started to yield results, ‘the negotiations will lead an end to this.’”
|Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies||Friedrich Naumann Foundation||N/A||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• RCHRS’s rhetoric includes accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” "collective punishment,” and “war crimes,” as well as supporting a Palestinian “right of return.”
|Sabeel||Bread for the world / EED*||96,456||• Leader of global church divestment movement.
• Sabeel director Naim Ateek was one of the signatories of the Kairos Palestine document, which advocates for BDS.
• Friends of Sabeel – (FOSNA) is a driving force behind BDS, including those initiated by mainline Protestant churches. Examples of participation include designing trips and conferences, producing publications and encouraging grass roots advocacy.
• Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel, stated that “It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge [G]olgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”
|Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)||Medico International||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• Signed (together with Addameer, BADIL, Al-Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Democracy & Conflict Resolution) on a Joint Call to Action: July 2014 – Month against the Apartheid Wall stating: “….it is time for a ‘legal intifada’, an intensified popular struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions….We ask you to expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice…”
|GIZ - German Agency for International Development (multi-player project)||2,712,530||2,712,530|
|Who Profits||Medico International||50,984||46,116||• Who Profits is a leader in BDS efforts against Israeli and foreign companies. The NGO maintains a public database of businesses to be targeted in international BDS campaigns.|
|Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC)||Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation||N/A||N/A||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call.
• On March 8, 2016, WATC was a signatory to the “Palestinian Women’s Call for Worldwide Women’s Endorsement of BDS,” which called on women and feminists to join BDS campaigns because the “the Israeli regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid has for decades denied the Palestinian people our inalienable right to self-determination.”
|Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)||Bread for the World / EED*||$20,738||• Signatory to 2005 BDS call
• In May 2005 signed a petition calling for the academic boycott of Israel as a means to “isolate Apartheid Israel…forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”
|Zochrot||Misereor||270,550||152,716||• In June 2017, Director of Pre-Transitional Justice Jessica Nevo participated in the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) forum to “mark fifty years of Israeli occupation,” which featured antisemitic rhetoric, calls for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), and demonization campaigns against Israel’s existence.
• Supports a “One State Solution” or a “de-Zionized Palestine,” and refers to Israel as having an “ethnicized and racialized Zionist” system.