What percentage is required for BDS

No serious handling

Today, the Bundestag will most likely vote on a joint motion from the CDU / CSU, Greens, FDP and SPD, as well as a motion from AfD, both of which declare the Palestinian movement BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) to be anti-Semitic. While the first-mentioned parties condemn BDS for its boycott demands against Israel, the AfD demands the complete ban on the campaign - although BDS plays no role politically in Germany. But in the competition for the best fighter against anti-Semitism, the AfD does not want to be ahead of the game for nothing: In current studies, 90 percent of the risk of anti-Semitism in Germany is located on the right. This is where the BDS debate comes in handy.

It is difficult to say what the exact consequences of the Bundestag resolution will be. Many similar resolutions at the municipal level were used to justify room bans against events that deal critically with Israeli occupation policy. In the cases that actually went to court, these bans were often untenable because the events fell under the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

Most of the parties represented in the Bundestag have political foundations that are also active in the Palestinian territories and almost all of which work with civil society organizations that have signed the BDS appeal. Hopefully you will continue to encourage them in the future. The Israeli government and its German - in part: its “anti-German” - apologists, whose relationship with Israel is reminiscent of the DKP's loyalty to the Soviet Union, dream that cooperation with these organizations will be banned. Because then there were hardly any Palestinian partners left.

Banalization of anti-Semitism

The BDS movement plays almost no role in Germany, although around 200,000 people with a Palestinian background live in Germany. So why the decision? It should above all be a gesture to the Israeli government and parts of the Israeli public. But there the voices of professional fake news manipulators are getting louder and louder, throwing accusations of anti-Semitism around like carnivalists with their candy. For example, they keep hit lists of the worst anti-Semites. Some have made it onto it because they criticized Israeli politics. Surely an uncomfortable experience.

“Anti-German” groups also like to use this method. Googled back and forth once and you already know who you can try to banish with the anti-Semitism charge. To call this approach to anti-Semitism dubious is still posh. The anti-Semitism accusation has degenerated into a cheap attempt at censorship that calls for attention in a screeching public space. Without really practical consequences, but defamatory.

At the same time, this form of debate does the fight against anti-Semitism a disservice. This is shown not least by the AfD motion, which misuses the anti-Semitism accusation as a fighting term against Islam and distorts it beyond recognition. Thoughtfulness, sophistication, dialectical thinking - none of this is possible and undesirable in such a polarized space. How critical awareness emerges and a reflective debate should take place remains a mystery. The question of how initiatives should be developed that can bring movement into the dramatic situation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains even more open. The expected resolution of the Bundestag against BDS will further limit Germany's foreign policy options to exert pressure on Israel for a political solution that also takes the interests of the Palestinians into account.

A differentiated debate about and with BDS is necessary

A Bundestag resolution as well as the anti-Semitism accusation against the campaign makes any critical and solidary discussion about BDS impossible. The boycott demand of the BDS is more differentiated than it is commonly presented, nevertheless in the German context a boycott call in connection with Israel is inextricably linked with the memory of the National Socialist boycott of Jews. Anyone who does not take note of this and only considers the Holocaust to be history is engaging in a dangerous normalization discourse with regard to German history. However, it should also be noted that sanctions are a widely used tool in international politics. Just think of Iran or Russia.

BDS should also be asked critically how the emotionalized discourse about Israeli colonialism superimposes and destroys a profound preoccupation with anti-Semitism and its history. The question must be allowed where it is about solidarity and where it is a question of projecting its own anti-colonial history onto Israel. Here it is essential to distinguish between a right-wing and even racist government in Israel, an infamous occupation policy and "Israel within the borders of Auschwitz" (Dan Diner).

What can a political movement for the rights of the Palestinians look like that actually changes something? Sometimes one has the impression that the very heterogeneous BDS movement follows the creed that every echo is a good echo. But whether the volume with which BDS acts is really that successful or whether the pro and contra BDS actually only serves to bar up the camps would perhaps be a more sensible discussion than gutting the anti-Semitism accusation for day-to-day political business.

Israeli-Palestinian actors beyond simple blame

Yet something fatal happened in the possible communication space between Israeli fears and Palestinian consternation. Who remembers that in the 1990s and 2000s there was an Israeli public ready to make sweeping concessions for Palestinian statehood? The Geneva initiative of respected Israeli and Palestinian politicians, which then tried to work out a final agreement in which both the status of Jerusalem and the question of the right of return would be clarified at least in part, achieved high approval ratings for these proposals among the Israeli population. The only thing is that there was a lack of political will in Israel's political elite. The emergence of the BDS movement is primarily the result of this political failure in Israel.

It is all the more important that there are still initiatives that move beyond this polarization. This, too, can be learned again and again in the Israeli-Palestinian context. There are people in Israel and Palestine who accept risks for their emotional self-image in order to find a political solution. On the eve of the Israeli memorial day for fallen soldiers, on Thursday last week, the Combatants for Peace held their annual rally, which is enjoying increasing popularity despite enormous hostility. The tone there is different from the simple assignment of blame. The Palestinian actress Saraya opened the ceremony with the following words: “All of us, Israelis and Palestinians, are victims of the conflict, have suffered pain and loss. But we are also perpetrators. It is therefore in our power and it is our duty to see to its end and to sow hope for our own future and that of our children. ”These meetings have been taking place since 2006.

They are also supported by the “Palestinian-Israeli Parents Circle”, which consists of families who have lost relatives as a result of the conflict. They violate taboos that exist in both societies. The basis on which they act is clear: an end to the occupation and the need for reconciliation. It would be nice if the Bundestag would return to such principles of German foreign policy instead of engaging in the deadlocked business of political opinion makers who are not interested in resolving the conflict.