The student parliament at the Goethe University in Frankfurt on Thursday condemned the BDS campaign for duplicating the Nazi-era movement’s boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses.
“The call by the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] campaign to boycott products from the parts designated ‘occupied territories’ of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights stands clearly in the tradition of the national socialist Jewish boycott and the slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews!”’ the student council wrote in its resolution.
The Left List (LiLi) and the Democratic List (DL) introduced the anti-BDS resolution at the university named after the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the state of Hesse. The university’s student enrollment is roughly 46,000.
“The call for an academic boycott is a severe attack on academic freedom. Therefore the BDS campaign has no business here,” said Johannes Fechner, the deputy chairman of students committee.
The resolution calls for “the end of cooperation with the BDS campaign, including advertisements, events or stands at the university and at other locations.”
The anti-BDS document said a boycott of Israeli educational institutions will lead to “a massive restriction of research and teaching of the Shoah and national socialism.”
The student groups wrote that BDS demands to tear down protective barriers to bar terrorist acts from Gaza and the West Bank, and “to require the return of ‘Palestinian refugees’ would in effect mean the end of the Jewish state and Jewish life in the Middle East.”
The students noted that “the antisemitism of the BDS movement appears today clearly in the always recurrent labeling of Israel as an ‘apartheid regime.’” The apartheid comparison, according to the resolution, is “part of an attempt to demonize Israel and highlight the allegedly racist character of Zionism. This baseless accusation relativizes the former institutional racism in South Africa and derides the real victims of apartheid.”
The resolution’s purpose was to send a strong signal to growing anti-Zionist and antisemitic tendencies in Frankfurt, including the group Free Palestine and the BDS-associated KoPi conference “50 Years of Israeli Occupation” that took place in Frankfurt in July.
The Goethe students took their counterparts at the University of Duisburg-Essen’s students’ committee in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to task for organizing an anti-Israel event with the BDS supporter Khaled Hamad, a representative of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine, in July.
The DFLP carried out a terrorist attack in 1974 that resulted in the murders of 22 children and four adults at the Netiv Meir Elementary School in Ma’alot in the Upper Galilee. Hamad is a member of the executive board of the German-Palestinian medical society.
On Friday, the students committee at the University of Duisburg-Essen elected new two student representatives to replace Nadine Bendahou – the former student group chairwoman who organized the anti-Israel event with Hamad and the Israeli Prof. Moshe Zuckermann from Tel Aviv, who is popular among anti-Israel Germans for his slashing attacks on Israeli policies. Zuckermann speaks German and also spoke at the anti-Israel KoPi event with BDS advocates.
According to the German paper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Bendahou’s role in the antisemitism scandal at the university along with her narrow focus on Muslim students at the exclusion of other students caused the change in student government representation.
Bendahou also serves as the spokeswoman for the youth organization NRW of the largely anti-Israel Left Party.
Writing in the student newspaper BSZ, Justin Mantoan said, “NRW is known for a long time for its antisemitic and Israel-hostile wing.” The Jungle World weekly reported that Bendahou said the speakers at the anti-Israel event were victims of a defamation campaign that involves the “ideological exploitation of the Shoah and the undermining of antisemitism criticism.”