Austrian parliament unanimously passes condemnation of anti-Israel boycotts

Resolution on ‘Israel-related anti-Semitism’ calls on government to not support divestment campaigns in any way; Israeli FM says other countries should follow suit

The Austrian parliament session in Vienna, Austria, January 10, 2020. (Ronald Zak/AP)
The Austrian parliament session in Vienna, Austria, January 10, 2020. (Ronald Zak/AP)

The Austrian parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution that calls on the government to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

All five parties represented in Austria’s National Council — including the Greens and the far-right Freedom Party — 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.”

“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.

Vienna should not provide any infrastructure to organizations that make anti-Semitic statements or question Israel’s right to exist, according to the resolution. Furthermore, 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.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz attends a Likud party rally, ahead of the general elections, in the northern Israeli town of Safed, February 24, 2020. (David Cohen/FLASH90)

Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomed the resolution, saying in a statement that the “very emphatic decision can serve as an example to other countries in Europe and around the world.”

Katz called on other countries and parliaments “to follow in the footsteps of Austria and adopt similar resolutions.”

The resolution shows Austria “stands on the side of Israel – not half-heartedly, but with full conviction,” said Austrian Member of the European Parliament Lukas Mandl in a statement from the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Friends of Israel.

“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,” said Mandl, who chairs the TFI, a cross-party, inter-parliamentary group that describes itself as “committed to strengthening the trilateral partnership between the United States, Israel, and Europe.”

Screen capture from video of Austrian Member of the European Parliament Lukas Mandl. (YouTube)

In its lengthy preamble, the Austrian resolution says that BDS has gained strength in Austria in recent years, and that the movement “employs anti-Semitic patterns.” It demonizes Israel, applies a “double standard” to the country and blames Austrian Jews for its policies.

Furthermore, it accuses BDS of questioning Israel’s right to exist by demanding a right of return for Palestinian refugees and all their descendants, according to the document.

Austria views any form of anti-Semitism as unacceptable, “and that of course includes Israel-related anti-Semitism,” the resolution’s preamble underlines, adding: “Factual criticism of individual measures by the Israel government must of course be admissible.”

In May 2019, Germany’s Bundestag passed a similar resolution, denouncing the BDS movement’s methods as anti-Semitic and reminiscent of Nazi-era calls to boycott Jews.

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