EU parties will be urged to back law saying Israel boycotts are ‘antisemitic’

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EU parties will be urged to back law saying Israel boycotts are ‘antisemitic’

Event next month championed by Israeli government and supported by CAA, to call on politicians to support legislation equating BDS with racism

Stickers calling for a boycott of Israel
Stickers calling for a boycott of Israel

European political parties will be urged to adopt legislation labelling Israel boycotts as “antisemitic” at an event next month, which is being championed by the Israeli government and supported by a London-based antisemitism charity.

The two-day event in Brussels, attended by Israeli Minister Ze’ev Elkin, is being run by two European Israel lobbying groups and partnered by the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Organisers at the European Jewish Association (EJA) said the conference on 6-7 November would establish “red lines,” one of which is that “all political parties pass a binding resolution rejecting BDS activities as fundamentally antisemitic”.

Those attending include Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as well as representatives from Jewish communities around the continent. The politicians are being urged to press for boycott legislation ahead of European elections in May.

The EJA’s website said delegates were being invited by Israel’s ministries of Jerusalem affairs and foreign affairs, among others, with both ministries’ logos shown prominently.

The other organising body is Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA), which describes itself as a lobby group led by Alex Benjamin, a former adviser to David Trimble in Northern Ireland.

The EJA said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “has become the new and latest incarnation of antisemitism” but Margrete Auken, vice-chair of the European parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, said that while she did not support boycotts, she rejected “the unceasing attempts to amalgamate this Palestinian-led movement with antisemitism”.

She added: “There is an evident wish to silence BDS advocates in order to protect the illegal policies of annexation and dispossession of the Netanyahu government. Criminalising and repressing the legitimate expression of free speech cannot be accepted in our societies.”

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