UN experts publish letter criticising German anti-BDS law

Special rapporteurs make public criticism of legislation after receiving no response from Germany, noting that criticising Israel 'is not antisemitic'

BDS demonstration in Marseille, France, 13 June 2015

Middle East Eye reports:

United Nations experts have published a letter they sent to the German government expressing dismay at the country’s law targeting the pro-Palestinian boycott movement and affirming that criticising Israel “is not antisemitic”.  Five UN special rapporteurs made the letter public this week after a 60-day period of reply ended without a response from the German authorities.

In May 2019, the German parliament passed a motion condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitic.  The law – titled “Resisting the BDS Movement with Determination – Combating Antisemitism” – accused BDS of utilising “patterns and methods” used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The BDS movement, which was founded in 2005 by Palestinian activists, responded by accusing Germany of “complicity in Israel’s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid”.

In their letter, the UN experts wrote that the law “unduly interferes with the right of people in Germany to engage in political speech, namely, to express support for the BDS movement”.  We further express our concern that the motion may hinder the peaceful activities of human rights defenders, groups and organisations denouncing human rights violations as part of the BDS movement by shrinking the civic space available to them to express legitimate grievances,” they wrote.

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