Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

With the support of all political parties, Austria’s parliament votes resolution condemning BDS as antisemitic

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The resolution was spearheaded by the Conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who is considered as a friend of Israel.

“The National Council emphatically condemns all kinds of anti-Semitism, including Israel-related anti-Semitism, and calls on the federal government to confront these tendencies resolutely and consequently,” the resolution states.

“This movement calls for a boycott of… Israeli artists, scientists and athletes. It demonizes and measures Israel by double standards, makes Austrian Jews jointly responsible for Israeli politics, and by calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and all their descendants, it questions the right of existence of the Jewish state,” it said.

Austria’s National Council, the country’s national parliament, has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the abti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as antisemitic and urging that the movement not be supported.

All five parties represented in parliament – including the Greens – supported the text of the “Israel-related anti-Semitism” resolution, which urges the government to “strongly condemn the BDS movement and its goals, especially the call for a boycott of Israeli products, businesses, artists, scientists or athletes.”

While anti-BDS laws have been passed in Vienna and Graz, the largest and second-largest cities in Austria, this would be the first time that such a measure is enacted at the federal level.

“The National Council emphatically condemns all kinds of anti-Semitism, including Israel-related anti-Semitism, and calls on the federal government to confront these tendencies resolutely and consequently,” the resolution states.

“This movement calls for a boycott of… Israeli artists, scientists and athletes. It demonizes and measures Israel by double standards, makes Austrian Jews jointly responsible for Israeli politics, and by calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and all their descendants, it questions the right of existence of the Jewish state,” said the resolution.

It calls on the government to not provide any infrastructure to organizations that make anti-Semitic statements or question Israel’s right to exist. The government is called upon “not to support financially or in any other way” events organized by the BDS movement or groups that further its goals.

“BDS, which has also increasingly appeared in Austria in recent years, makes use of this antisemitic pattern,” stated the resolution. The antisemitic pattern refers to one of the antisemitic BDS goals that seeks to not “recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination,” the text said.

The resolution was spearheaded by the Conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who is considered as a friend of Israel.

Austria was one of the first EU Member States to adopt this IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) working definition of anti-Semitism by a resolution of the Council of Ministers on April 21, 2017. According to the IHRA anti-Semitism definition adopted by Austria, the State of Israel, which is understood as a Jewish collective, may be the target of anti-Semitic hostility, such as the rejection of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, collective responsibility of Jews for acts of the State of Israel, or comparisons between current Israeli politics and Nazi policies.

The Austrian Presidency of the EU unanimously adopted a declaration on combating anti-Semitism and developing a common approach to security for Jewish communities and institutions during the Justice and Home Affairs Council on December 6, 2018. The European Council welcomed this statement in its conclusions of December 13 and 14, 2018.

Also, in 2018, the President of the National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka, commissioned a study to understand the level of anti-Semitic sentiments in Austria. The result of this study is that 10% of Austrians are manifestly anti-Semitic and 30% are latently anti-Semitic. The percentages are alarmingly higher among the Turkish and Arabic-speaking people who were born in Austria or have lived with us for more than ten years.

Martin Engelberg, a Jewish MP for the governing Conservative party, tweeted “Just now sharply condemned BDS movement in the Austrian Parliament UNANIMOUSLY and stated that BDS in Austria should not be supported in any way. A strong and symbolic statement by the Austrian Parliament against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”

”The wording of the motion is very strong and it is particularly significant that it was passed with the votes all parties represented in the parliament,” he said.

He added: ”I am extremely satisfied by the Austrian government under the leadership of Sebastian Kurz being at the forefront of the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in Europe and worldwide and being such a close friend and supporter of Israel.”

Lukas Mandl, an Austrian Member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party said: “The Austrian parliament’s historic decision to condemn any boycotts of Israeli goods shows that Austria stands on the side of Israel – not half-heartedly, but with full conviction. Israel is Europe’s key partner in the Middle East for security, economic cooperation and job creation, and shares our fundamental values of the rule of law and democracy. He added that Austria’s partnership with Israel ‘’is a shining example for other European countries to follow.’’

In May 2019, the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, passed a resolution condemning the BDS movement as anti-Semitic and pledging to cut off funding to any organizations that actively support BDS. The resolution, passed by a broad cross-party alliance, stated:

“The all-embracing boycott call in its radicalism leads to the branding of Israeli citizens of the Jewish faith. There are statements and actions from the BDS movement that seek to cast doubt on the right of existence of the State of Israel. Calls for boycott are reminiscent of anti-Semitic positions of National Socialism are unacceptable and sharply condemnable,” said the resolution.

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