Why is Israel afraid of BDS

BDS campaignAnti-Semitism under the guise of criticism of Israel?

Roger Waters, co-founder of rock legend Pink Floyd, is currently touring Germany. Whether in Munich, Cologne or just two weeks ago in Berlin - at many concerts he incorporates political rant against Israel's policy. He also attacked the upcoming Berlin Pop-Culture Festival in the capital.

"I call on all artists in the world to boycott the Pop-Kultur Festival in Berlin. Because it accepts money from the Israeli government!"

BDS stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions

Waters, a prominent face of the global BDS movement, had previously been aroused by a "powerful Jewish lobby" and drawn parallels between Israel's politics and the Holocaust. Now he is opposed to the fact that in August - at the pop event on the Spree - three Israeli artists will be performing, who will receive a "accommodation and travel cost share" of 1,200 euros from their embassy in Berlin. Five singers or bands from England and the USA have therefore already canceled their participation in the festival. The Israeli embassy criticizes - in a press statement - the boycott call:

"The BDS movement is motivated by hatred and incites against dialogue instead of promoting it. The campaign aims to intimidate and restrict people's freedom of choice."

Berlin, in the foyer of a large university. Brown marble floor, white pillars. A little woman comes in wearing a golden Koran pendant as a necklace: Nadine Taufik - Palestinian and Berlin BDS activist. The name Taufik, however, is a pseudonym. The scientist explains that she is afraid to use her real name to speak publicly about the boycott campaign against Israel.

"We all know that Israeli secret services are quite successful in what they are doing in inhumane things - then of course you have a reason to be cautious."

According to Taufik, he writes to music groups all over the world and urges them to stay away from the pop culture festival - because Israel is adding money and because the state's logo appears on the festival website.

"Here we are trying to sensitize people to the fact that it is not possible to voluntarily or at least approve of the cart, of a state that is currently committing massive human rights violations and is trying to wash itself clean with cultural-political contributions."

Roger Waters supports the BDS movement (archive picture 2016) (imago / ZUMA Press)

Campaigns against Israel

According to Taufik, 40 to 50 Germans, Palestinians, French, British, Americans and also critical Israelis are active in the Berlin BDS group - mostly academics and cultural workers. The BDS boycott is directed against occupation, illegal settlements and the construction of the Israeli Wall. The example is the former international ostracism of South Africa.

"In South Africa the public began to discuss apartheid more and more critically when international stars began to say: We simply can no longer reconcile it with our conscience to play under the sun in South Africa and ignore apartheid at the same time. And we hope that it could work in a similar way in Israel. "

Berlin-Mitte, at Potsdamer Platz. On the sixth floor of a sand-colored building: a heavy door with multiple cameras. There is no sign indicating that the American Jewish Committee has an office here - a security measure for fear of possible attacks. The Jewish organization, which campaigns against anti-Semitism worldwide, also sees anti-Jewish motives in the BDS campaign. AJC press spokesman Fabian WeiƟbarth complains:

"Of course, the BDS actions, especially in Germany, are a reminder of the Nazi past, where Jewish shops were boycotted and, moreover, were devastated. Many in the Jewish community feel reminded of this time."

The AJC has collected numerous pieces of evidence from BDS actors who question Israel's right to exist. In addition, according to the press spokesman, there is evidence that extremist groups were also involved in the global BDS campaign - such as Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

"At BDS there is a structural connection between civil society actors and terrorist actors."

Nadine Taufik from the Berlin BDS group denies: You distance yourself from any anti-Semitism, she emphasizes. However, her answer to the question of whether terrorist organizations could also be part of the BDS campaign remains unclear.

"BDS is about an international, decentralized movement, about networks. Networks are about having no members. I don't know who and where finds BDS good. I want to ... well ... that's why it is ... that doesn't get us any further. "

German politics is distancing itself

And Taufik does not want to comment at all on Israel's right to exist. No wonder that German politics, which regards Israel's right to exist as a reason of state, distances itself from the boycott campaign. At the end of April, the Bundestag decided to reject BDS campaigns. The Berlin House of Representatives made a similar decision two weeks ago. Susanne Kitschun, the vice parliamentary group leader of the co-ruling SPD, announced the consequences.

"Such anti-Semitic organizations that demonize the State of Israel as a whole should not receive any rooms, grants or grants from the country in Berlin."

The cities of Munich and Frankfurt am Main also want to refuse any support for the BDS campaign. The Berlin Pop-Kultur Festival also - clearly - takes a position: According to the event organizers, they will not be intimidated by the new boycott call.