Israelis along with Germans launched the Action Forum group, which included a protest against BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists targeting Jewish state products in front of a Berlin department store on Thursday.
The group’s goals are to counter “one-sided and wrong information” about Israel in the German media, as well as to combat BDS, Gaby Spronz, an Israeli engineer working in Germany and one of the founders of Action Forum, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday The group has 1,500 members, most of whom are in Germany, Spronz said.
Action Forum (Aktionsforum Israel) jump-started its activity with 20 activists distributing flyers against BDS at Alexander Square in front of the Galeria Kaufhof department store on Thursday.
“BDS is against Israel’s right to exist and for a Jew-free Palestine from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea,” the Action Forum flyer read.
“They are anti-Semites who are calling for a ban of Jewish products,” activist Jan Zimmermann told the Post at the demonstration.
Zimmermann was referencing a group of roughly 20 BDS supporters who circulated flyers in front of Galeria Kaufhof calling for people to boycott the Israeli carbonated drink maker SodaStream.
Members of BDS Berlin sported red T-shirts with the slogans “Viva Palestine” and “Boycott Apartheid Israel.” The BDS Campaign website – an aggregation site for German boycott groups – announced the protest on August 21. The anti-Israel activist Doris Ghannam, who is listed on the group’s website as contact person, was present at the demonstration.
After a Post exposé on BDS Campaign’s fund-raising and bank account in February, the Munich-based DAB bank closed its account. The Post learned from sources in France that the owner of DAB bank – the French financial giant BNP Paribas – pulled the plug on the account because it violated France’s anti-discrimination law. France’s 2003 Lellouche law bans BDS because it discriminates against Israelis based on national origin.
Smadar Pery, an Israeli living in Berlin who oversees the Facebook page for Action Forum, told the Post, “We mobilize our members to protest anti-Israel events.”
The Action Forum equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. BDS is widely considered to be anti-Semitic in Germany among experts on modern anti-Semitism. The prominent German political scientist Samuel Salzborn said BDS is “an influential anti-Semitic campaign against Israel.”
The student council at Leipzig University approved an anti-BDS resolution in early August. The resolution states: BDS “connects seamlessly to the anti-Semitic boycott campaigns of decades past and explicitly to the National Socialism” and to “the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews.”’ The student council document noted: “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 an existential threat to the Jews.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.