On May 17, 2019, the German Bundestag passed a landmark resolution affirming BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel as antisemitic, as stated in the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) working definition. The 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, antisemitism and/or deny Israel’s right of exist.

Despite this multi-partisan support, a number of politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – in particular those that benefit from German government funding and from other European countries –condemned the motion.

For example, Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, president of the highly influential Bread for the World organization declared, “The resolution of the Bundestag equates BDS with antisemitism. A differentiation between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of the concrete occupation policy of Israel’s current government is missing.” Bread for the World (BfW) claimed that it “does not support projects having BDS as their aim or content, and rejects calls for a boycott ‘against Israel, Israeli goods and services, artists, scientists and athletes.’” This is a standard claim made by anti-Israel activists which falsely equates demonization and singling out of the Jewish state with legitimate criticism.

NGO Monitor research shows that at least four NGOs funded by BfW-EED promote BDS, antisemitism, and/or deny Israel’s right to exist. Bread for the World (BfW-EED) is the official aid framework of the Protestant Church in Germany. Since 1962, the German government is obligated under German law to provide financial support for the development work of church-aid organizations. In 2018 BfW donors included European Union, German Federal Ministry for economic Cooperation and Development, the Protestant Central Agency for Development Aid, and other German “Federal Funds” that are not named explicitly.

Another form of condemnation, published on May 23, 2019, was a statement by 17 Palestinians NGOs  claiming, without any evidence, that the Bundestag’s anti-BDS declaration “Violates Principles of International Law, Stands against Palestinian Civil Society and Aspirations for Freedom, Justice, and Dignity.”  It appears that all NGOs that signed the statement promote BDS campaigns against Israel, including a number linked to the PFLP terror groups, such as Addameer, Al-Dameer, Al-Haq, and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P).

Additionally, Kairos Palestine published a “Call for the German Bundestag to Reverse its May 17, 2019 Resolution,” falsely asserting that “the BDS movement is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It unconditionally opposes all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.” Kairos Palestine demanded that “the Bundestag to revise its resolution and to realize that Israel needs friends who can pressure and advice it to take the road of real peace and reconciliation.” Kairos Palestine’s 2009 Kairos Palestine Document calls for BDS, denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel in theological terms, and blames Israel solely for the conflict. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) declared the Kairos Palestine document as “supersessionist” and “anti-Semitic” in its nature.

Additional Statements from NGOs Condemning the German Resolution

  1. Al-Haq (Donors in 2014-2017 include:  Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from Denmark, the NetherlandsSweden, and Switzerland),  NorwayIreland, and Germany )
  • Twitter: “Resolution silences & restrains already existing shrinking space for Palestinian CSOs who for decades have worked to advocate for the realization of Palestinians’ inalienable rights & to promote respect for international law as the foundation for #freedom, #justice & #equality.” (May 23)
  • Twitter: “The resolution adopted by the German #Bundestag penalises civil society working towards ensuring fundamental rights, freedom, justice & dignity for the Palestinian people whose rights have been systematically denied since 1948 & throughout #Israel’s prolonged military occupation.” (May 23)
  • Twitter: “Palestinian CSOs call on the international community, including #German, #European & international civil society organisations, third States, #UN bodies & experts, to firmly denounce and publicly reject the #Bundestag resolution, and to prevent it from passing into law.” (May 23)
  • Retweeted: “The German government’s campaign against #BDS has taken its next step – an outright labeling of BDS as anti-Semitic, and association of it with Nazi boycotts of Jews. Palestinian civil society has now responded to the assault.” (May 24)
  1. Al-Shabaka (Donors in 2016 include the Rockefeller Brothers FundFoundation for Middle East PeaceHeinrich Boell Stiftung, and the Hassib J. Sabbagh Foundation, and Middle East Policy Network)
  • Twitter: “Opinion: The impulse for Germany to criminalise #BDS stems from the desire to overcome one’s guilt over the Holocaust” (May 25)
  • Twitter: “Palestinians protest German attack on right to boycott Israeli apartheid @intifada” (May 28)
  1. Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust (Donors are not disclosed. 2017-2019 funding from Germany,  EU’s European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI))
  • Twitter: “The #BDS movement in Germany and the world must not see this as a setback but a victory. This is what nonviolence is all about. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi” (May 21)
  1. Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) (2016-2018 donors include:  American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Bread for the World (Germany), Kurve Wustrow, Kvinna Till Kvinna (Sweden), the Global Fund for Women, and Alliance for Global Justice, SwitzerlandEuropean CommissionOxfam Novib (Netherlands), the United Church of Canada, ICCO (Netherlands), Diakonia (Sweden), Medico International (Germany),  The United Church of Canada, SIVMO (Netherlands), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium),  Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Foundation (EMHRF), Norwegian Church Aid, and Rosa Luxemberg Foundation (Germany))
  • Posted on Facebook on May 26: “With this shameful resolution, the Bundestag is undermining the right to freedom of expression, a characteristic of undemocratic and authoritarian regimes, including Israel’s far-right government. #BDS”
  • Twitter: “From now on, #Germany will consider every supporter of #BDS to be a Jew-hater; saying ‘the Israeli occupation’ will be like saying ‘Heil Hitler.’ From now on, Germany cannot boast of its freedom of speech. It has become an agent of Israeli colonialism.” (May 21)
  • Posted on Facebook on May 20: “The German parliament’s decision against the boycott movement turns almost any criticism of Israel, including criticism from Israeli citizens, into anti-Semitism. To prevent himself from unpleasant ‘associations,’ the European master once again determines the boundaries of democratic space” (NGO Monitor translation from Hebrew)
  1. PNGO (2016-2018 donors include: German Society for International Cooperation- GIZ, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), European Union,  Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Germany), NGO Development Center (NDC))
  • Twitter: “The network [PNGO] organizes a demonstration in front of the German representative in Gaza in protest against the decision of the German parliament against the boycott movement BDS” (May 23)(NGO Monitor translation from Arabic)
  • Posted on Facebook on May 26: “A demonstration in front of the German representative in Gaza in protest against the decision of the German parliament against the boycott movement (BDS). Representatives of the civil society and human rights organizations called on the German parliament to reverse its decision on BDS, which aims at delegitimizing the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and the apartheid regime, stressing that depriving the Palestinians of their right to peaceful advocacy of freedom, justice and equality puts the German parliament at odds with international law.”
  1. Medico International (2016-2019 donors include Germany (through the German Federal Foreign Office [AA] and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development [BMZ]) and the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) of the European Union. Private donors include Brot fur die WeltMisereor, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation)
  • Posted on Facebook on May 17: “The Bundestag is today negotiating an application against the Palestinian # BDS movement. The parties thus do a disservice to the fight against anti-Semitism. A contribution from medico colleague Katja Maurer” (NGO Monitor translation from German)
  • Retweet: ‘“We fear a condemnation of our Palestinian partners who are now equated with antisemites.’ Barbara Unmussig, chairman of the @boell_stiftung for the decision of the Bundestag” (May 17) (NGO Monitor translation from German)
  • Twitter: “‘Antisemitism is increasing rapidly, driven by the return of European nationalism. Precisely for this reason, the charge of antisemitism should not be invalidated by inflationary, dishonest political instrumentalization.‘ #BDS https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/der-umgang-mit-der-bds-kampagne-wenn-worte-zur-waffe-werden.1005.de.html …” (June 13) (NGO Monitor translation from German)
  • Twitter: “’Those who criticize the decision of the Bundestag, are automatically for #BDS. Those who support BDS, are automatically antisemitic. “This is a logic of defamation, not an open debate. Fatal, how reckless the # antisemitism term is devalued. @jmberlin” (June 15) (NGO Monitor translation from German)
  • Published a statement on their website a day before the passing of the anti-BDS-motion (May 16) stating that: “The accusation of anti-Semitism has degenerated into a cheap attempt of censorship, which calls for attention in a high-profile public space. Without really practical consequences, but defamatory.”
  1. The Electronic Intifada (Funding not disclosed)
  • Twitter: “German elites dress their hostility to Palestinians seeking liberation from Israeli occupation and apartheid as a form of atonement for the German-led European Christian genocide of European Jews” (May 27)
  • Twitter: “While BDS is an explicitly anti-racist movement, Israel is allying with true anti-Semites” (May 25)
  • Twitter: “Zionism is racist because it justifies Israel’s expulsion and exclusion of Palestinians from their homeland solely on the grounds that they are not Jewish” (May 25)
  1. Jewish Voice for Peace  (2014-2017 Donors include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation,  Violet Jabara Charitable Trust (an Arab-American foundation that also supports Electronic Intifada), the Firedoll Foundation, and the Wallace Global Fund.)
  • Twitter: “Activists worldwide use boycotts to challenge rights abuses and seek political change. Boycotts played key roles in the US struggle for African-American rights and in international campaigns against apartheid in South Africa and atrocities in Darfur” and “In Germany, the term boycott evokes memories of the boycott of Jewish-owned shops in the 1930s. To equate that dark chapter with boycotts of Israel over its rights abuses is to trivialize our history.” (May 29)
  • Twitter: “BDS is a nonviolent movement against “all forms of racism, including antisemitism” – signers argue that it would be wrong to delegitimate it or deny funding, as doing so might alienate German-Palestinians who will not be able to “express their sorrow.”” (May 23)
  • Twitter: “From now on, Germany will consider every supporter of BDS to be a Jew-hater; saying ‘the Israeli occupation’ will be like saying ‘Heil Hitler.’ From now on, Germany cannot boast of its freedom of speech. It has become an agent of Israeli colonialism.” (May 20)
  • Twitter: “’If your history has imposed a burden and an obligation upon you, it is to defend justice not Israel. This is what Judaism, not Zionism, demands.’ Dr. Sara Roy https://es/a0jhbe @mondoweiss” (June 10)
  • Twitter: “Is there any similarity between boycotting ‘wine produced in the occupied territories on lands stolen by settlers who are protected by the army of the strongest regional power – and boycotting the store of a defenseless Jew during Nazi Germany?’” (June 17)
  • Twitter: “Some background on the frightening situation in Germany by @MairavZ” (June 21)
  • Twitter: “’Putting BDS centre stage directs the debate towards Israel and Palestine instead of focusing on homegrown antisemitism and racism, including among communities of migrant origin in Germany which should be the focus if this was genuinely about antisemitism’” (June 21)
  1. Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch “Israel and Palestine Director”
  • Twitter: “Germany should reject resolution passed by parliament presenting #BDS as anti-Semitic, as its not answer to virulent cancer of anti-Semitism & will only restrict speech, punish rights activists & legitimize illegal settlements, @hrw’s @WenzelMichalski says https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/05/28/anti-boycott-measure-wrong-way-combat-anti-semitism …” (May 29)
  • Twitter: “Few know better than @hrw Germany Dir @WenzelMichalski that antiSemitism on rise- NYT last wk profiled harassment his son faced in Berlin- but he says antiBDS laws restrict speech, punish rights activists, legitimize illegal settlements & aren’t the answer https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/05/28/anti-boycott-measure-wrong-way-combat-anti-semitism …” (May 28)
  1. Human Rights Watch (2016-2018 donors include Open Society InstituteFord FoundationRockefeller Brothers Foundation, and the Oak Foundation.)
  • Twitter: ‘“Everyone has the right under international human rights law to express their views through non-violent means, however abhorrent one might find them, including participating in boycotts.’ @WenzelMichalski” (May 29)
  • Twitter: “Few know better than @hrw’s Germany Dir @WenzelMichalski that antiSemitism is on the rise, but antiBDS laws restrict speech, punish rights activists, legitimize illegal settlements & aren’t the answer https://trib.al/sWLQG9J” (May 28)
  • Wenzel Michalski, HRW Germany director tweeted: “Why do I think the Bundestag anti-boycott proposals are the wrong way to fight anti-Semitism? Because it restricts free speech and distracts it from an effective fight against everyday hatred of Jews in the broader society.” (May 28) (NGO Monitor translation from German)
  • Wenzel Michalski published an article “Anti-Boycott Measure Wrong Way to Combat Anti-Semitism,” stating that “Governments like Germany’s are right to be concerned about the virulent cancer of anti-Semitism. But the joint CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Bündnis90/Die Grünen motion that passed the Bundestag recently that present boycotts of Israel as anti-Semitic is misplaced and the wrong way to combat anti-Semitism. The German government should reject it.”
  • Kenneth Roth Twitter: “Whatever you think about the merits of boycotts, they are legitimate political expression, so 240 Jewish intellectuals petition Germany’s Bundestag against outlawing boycotts of Israel, saying “boycotts are a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance.” https://trib.al/KbNigYV ” (June 13)
  1. B’Tselem (2016-2018 donors include: European UnionHuman Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from SwedenSwitzerlandDenmark and the Netherlands), Norwaythe NetherlandsFranceUnited KingdomDanChurchAid (Denmark), Trocaire (Ireland), Catholic Relief Services (US), Christian Aid IrelandDiakonia (Sweden), Bread for the World- EED (Germany), ZIVIK (Germany), the Ford Foundation, the New Israel Fund, UNICEF, and UNDP.)
  • Retweeted a post by Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem’s International Advocacy Officer: “Bundestag members, am I anti-Semitic? By the brave and inspiring Ilana Hammerman.” (May 25)
  1. Samidoun (Samidoun does not publish financial information.)