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German University Students Condemn Boycott And Sanctions Movement

(Credit: Reuters)
By Jordan Zaitchik
B’nai Brith Canada

The student government at Leipzig University in Germany passed a resolution that condemns the boycott and sanctions movement against Israel, deeming it antisemitic.

On Aug. 2, the student government passed the resolution “to condemn the anti-Semitic BDS campaign,” it also stated that it is “against anti-Semitic measures such as disinviting Israeli academics.” The resolution prevents the promotion, participation, and execution of boycott and sanctions events/exhibitions/demonstrations against Israel at the university. It pointed out that the movement resembles that of previous antisemitic campaigns throughout history such as the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews.” The students thoughtfully pointed out that the campaign’s goal is the “abolition of the State of Israel”. The student government also explained that the movement is a danger to academic freedom.

Legal Insurrection translated the German university’s resolution, it reads,

“The Student Council condemns anti-Semitic boycott campaigns such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and stands against the execution, participation in, and promotion of such campaigns and events at the University of Leipzig.
Therefore, the Student Council will not support BDS Campaign or settings (events, exhibitions, demonstrations etc.) in which BDS Movement is involved.
We consider international cooperation vital for the Academics. As a Student Council we stand against anti-Semitic measures such as disinviting of Israeli academicians from conferences in the context of the boycott campaign, and (council will) publicize whenever it happens thereby contributing to the clarification of the matter and preventing such an occurrence.”

The resolution was passed in response to anti-Israel activism on campus. In June, Lorri Allen, an anthropology professor from the University of London, visited Leipzig University to showcase her new novel The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine. The London professor specializes in the Near and Middle East with a particular focus on Palestinian politics, she is a vigorous pro-Palestine advocate.

At her book event, Allen used the majority of the time to promote the boycott and sanctions movement against Israel. She also used her time at Leipzig to minimize the terrorist actions of Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorist organizations whose primary goal is to destroy Israel and its Jewish population. The London professor attempted to justify their actions, “there is no explicit prohibition that makes armed struggle for self-determination illegal… When Palestinian youth throw stones at occupation soldiers… when they fight with Israeli settlers who have stolen their land and homes, they are spreading a real culture of human rights.”

The student government addressed this sentiment in the resolution,

“In light of the Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian Regime’s open and relentlessly expressed threats to destroy not only Israel, but Jews worldwide, the BDS Campaign presents itself as an existential threat to the Jews. [52-55]
To describe democratic State of Israel as “Apartheid” and “Regime”, as BDS Campaign normally does, is part of the (ongoing) demonization of Israel. when it comes to academic boycott this demonization is especially evident in the ending all forms of cooperation with Israel with regard to defence cooperation; whereby Israel’s right to defend itself is denied and its necessity rejected, which again is as form of de-legitimization. [147-152]”

The London professor has since been accused of promoting antisemitism by demonizing the Jewish state as well as ignoring the reality of terror in everyday Israeli life. On August 14, Allen responded to these allegations, she claimed “of course I do not support anti-Semitism. People who defame BDS supporters in this way, by equating a nonviolent political movement with racism, are indulging in cheap propaganda tactics.”

It is not entirely clear whether or not the sponsors of the event knew that Allen planned to promote the boycott, what is clear though is that taxpayer money was used to hold the event. The university’s Center for Area Studies and Center for Global and European Studies, the German federal Ministry for Education and Research, the European Network in Universal and Global History, and Stanford University Press sponsored the anti-Israel event.

Alliance against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism Leipzig, a civil society group protested Allen’s event and wrote a position paper on its website. Social Democratic Youth Organization (Juso), and the Young Liberals student groups at Leipzig played a large role in the resolution to condemn the boycott and sanctions movement. The statement reads ” Israel’s right to exist and to self-defense is for us nonnegotiable.”

Leipzig University is one of the oldest universities in the world, and the second-oldest university in Germany after the University of Heidelberg. The university was founded in 1409, has been dedicated to academic excellence. The university is ranked tenth in Germany, forty-seventh in Europe, and 161st in the world according to Webometrics. Some of the university’s graduates include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.