Austrian city bans public funds for antisemitic BDS and political Islam

The measure was passed with votes of a wide range of political parties, including the conservatives, the Greens and social democrats.
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Anti-BDS poster (photo credit: JWG LTD)

Anti-BDS poster (photo credit: JWG LTD)

The central city of Graz in Austria on Thursday outlawed public space and institutional support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as for political Islam.

According to the legislation reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the city council of Graz announced that “Municipal services are not allowed to support group events that pursue or promote the goals of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and political Islam.”

The law added that “Space and institutions that are under the city administration must not be made available to organizations that express themselves in antisemitic terms or question Israel’s right to exist.”

The measure was passed with votes from a wide range of political parties, including the conservatives, the Greens and social democrats. The communist faction of the city council voted against the anti-BDS law.

The anti-BDS law in Graz is significant because the city is the second largest municipality after Vienna. Graz is the capital city of the state of Styria, with a population of nearly 300,000. Elie Rosen, the head of the Jewish community in Graz, welcomed the city council’s action to ban BDS. Graz’s mayor Siegfried Nagl also supported the anti-BDS measure.

The law said the city of Graz “condemns every form of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.” The capital of Austria, Vienna, passed an anti-BDS resolution in 2018, which unanimously proscribed the organization as antisemitic and banned support for “events that advertise for BDS.”

In September, the Post reported leading Austrian lawmakers have vowed they will declare the BDS campaign targeting Israel as antisemitic during the next legislative session. Austria has not yet formed a new government.

“We hope that words will be followed by deeds and that… there will soon be a parliamentary resolution,” wrote the organization Jewish-Austrian Students, which hosted the politicians at its event in Vienna earlier this month.

In response to a question at the event from college student Noah Scheer, who asked if the Austrian parliament will replicate the May decision of the German Bundestag to classify BDS as antisemitic, the MPs pledged to do so.

Sibylle Hamann from the Green Party compared BDS to the Nazi-era “Don’t buy from Jews” campaign. She said the Nazi slogan “resonates” with the BDS campaign.

Austrian city bans public funds for antisemitic BDS and political Islam

The measure was passed with votes of a wide range of political parties, including the conservatives, the Greens and social democrats.
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