The Frankfurt City Council approved a bill introduced by the mayor to bar the use of city funds and venues for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Friday’s decision brings the council one step closer to outlawing BDS, which Mayor Uwe Becker has described as “deeply anti-Semitic.” The bill now needs approval from the city legislature.
BDS activists have consistently rejected claims that they are motivated by anti-Semitism, noting that some Jews take part in their activities or support them. The BDS movement says its actions are a reaction to Israel’s alleged violations of international law against Palestinians.
The city of Munich is considering a similar bill.
The City Council decided that no municipal venues or outdoor areas will be provided for activities of the BDS, and any organization that does provide support for BDS risks losing city funding. The council also called on private property owners to take the regulation to heart, even if it does not apply officially to them.
In a statement issued Friday, Becker said the BDS movement uses anti-Zionism as a vehicle for an anti-Semitic agenda. He also emphasized the connections between his city and Israel, and his hopes for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.
BDS is not about resolving the conflict, he said, but “essentially about delegitimizing the State of Israel, using the tools of boycotts and defamation.” Becker decried the actions of “self-appointed ‘department store police’ who attach labels to Israeli products in order to intimidate retailers, who try to intimidate artists who perform in Israel or wish to do so, and who disturb events.”
The mayor accused the BDS movement of using “the same language that National Socialists once employed to say ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”