Jürgen Trittin on the boycott movement BDS: "A Climate of Intimidation"

Jürgen Trittin on the boycott movement BDS

According to the Bundestag, the boycott movement BDS is anti-Semitic. Green Jürgen Trittin now sees the freedom of expression in danger.

Menshcne hold up three big letters BDS

BDS protests in Berlin: In June 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the city Photo: imago images / Stefan Zeitz

taz: Mr. Trittin, on Friday, parliament will deal with the Israel boycott movement. Do you consider BDS anti-Semitic?

Jürgen Trittin: I think BDS is very critical, but not anti-Semitic as a whole. You have to criticize BDS, also because it does not fight anti-Semitism in its own ranks. But declaring BDS antisemitic in toto means putting much of the Palestinian civilian population, which has been under occupation for more than 50 years, into the anti-Semitic corner. It also means garnering non-violent anti-Semitic groups with the label "anti-Semites". That's wrong.

According to the resolution of the Bundestag, the "methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic" …

Even the title insinuates BDS and anti-Semitism as equal. In addition, municipalities in this country BDS or groups that pursue the objectives of the campaign, no longer provide rooms available. This had the bizarre effect in Munich that even a debate on this ban should not take place in urban areas. It fits in with this that the Bundestag motion also lacks a commitment to freedom of expression.

So freedom of expression is restricted?

Take the case of the journalist Andreas Zumach, who was refused premises for an event because of alleged proximity to BDS. There is a climate of intimidation against critics of Israeli occupation policy. Even those who have been advocating German-Israeli reconciliation for decades are being attacked as anti-Semites. Since the application lacks the necessary differentiation.

Your group supports the BDS decision. Why?

There was an intense debate in the group. A majority is in favor of this motion, but a strong minority is opposed. It is significant, however, that the supporters in the Green Group did not argue for the content of the motion. I believe that the approval of many was motivated by the motive of not exposing oneself to the unjustified charge of anti-Semitism. But I think we should start the debate. But that does not change the fact that we agree that the security of Israel is a national state of mind.

BDS is marginal in Germany …

The conclusion ennobles a movement that is loud, but small. On the important questions – how to achieve the two-state solution, how to prevent the looming annexation of much of the West Bank? – it does not matter at all. The danger is that especially church organizations dealing with these central issues are now branded as anti-Semitic. Therefore, from their side, including from Israel, such as the party Meretz, there is the request not to agree to this request.

According to the Bundestag, "no projects are to be funded that actively support the BDS movement". Does that have practical effects?

Many foundations and church and non-church organizations fear that this will severely jeopardize their projects in Israel and Palestine.

Rightly?

Unfortunately yes. Israeli authorities are already trying to prevent GIZ projects in the Occupied Territories. This federal decision will encourage the Netanjahu right-wing nationalist government to continue this practice. This government uses the accusation of anti-Semitism in Israel to delegitimize all who want an end to the illegal occupation. The government has tried to limit the activities of NGOs according to the Russian model. So she failed in court. The rule of law still works in the Israeli heartland. The right-wing government in Israel will continue to try to restrict freedom of expression.

Would you go so far as to say: The Bundestag makes itself the mouthpiece of the Netanyahu government?

No. I have nothing left for conspiracy theory. Many supporters of this motion feel massive pressure – and make a wrong decision in my eyes.

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