Germany labels Israel boycott movement BDS anti-Semitic

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Protesters hold banners and placards as they take part in a demonstration calling for an end to Israel's policy towards Gaza and a boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, IsraelImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Protesters call for a boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv

Germany's parliament has condemned as anti-Semitic a movement calling for a cultural boycott of Israel over its policies towards Palestinians.

Lawmakers in the Bundestag said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group uses anti-Semitic methods to promote its political goals.

The BDS movement described the decision as "a betrayal of international law".

It comes after the group called for artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv this week.

In Friday's resolution vote, which took place on the eve of the show's final, Germany's lower house said the actions of the BDS were reminiscent of the "terrifying" Nazi campaign against Jewish people under Adolf Hitler.

"The 'don't buy' stickers of the BDS movement on Israeli products [could be associated] with the Nazi call 'don't buy from Jews', and other corresponding graffiti on facades and shop windows," the non-binding resolution said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has previously said that the BDS movement opposes his nation's very existence, welcomed the "important" decision in a statement posted on Twitter.

"I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation," the statement said.

The motion, submitted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Greens and Free Democrats, pledges to reject all financial support for the BDS movement.

Condemning the move, the BDS group said the "unconstitutional resolution" was anti-Palestinian and unhelpful in the fight against "real anti-Jewish racism".

"BDS targets complicity not identity. The academic and cultural boycott of Israel is strictly institutional and does not target individual Israelis," the movement said in a statement posted online.

Ahead of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, the BDS movement called on artists and broadcasters to distance themselves from the event, which they said was being used to "distract attention from [Israel's] war crimes".

Madonna was among those facing calls to boycott the contest, but she confirmed on Thursday that she would be performing.