Legislators from the two main parties in the Munich City Council voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday in a committee meeting to approve a bill that would outlaw municipal funding and public space for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions activity targeting the Jewish state.
The measure will now be sent to the full city council for a vote where it is expected to pass.
“With this remarkable approach, Munich sent a nationwide signal against antisemitism,” Charlotte Knobloch, the head of Munich’s Jewish community, said on Wednesday.
Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor who has advocated a ban of BDS in Munich city facilities for years, added, “The city sharply condemned all forms of open and disguised antisemitism and issued a clear statement against the antisemitic BDS campaign.”
Marian Offman, a city councilman with the Christian Social Union party, along with Social Democrats, spearheaded the anti-boycott measure. He told the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung that BDS seeks the elimination of Israel. “That would be for me and other Jewish people like a second Holocaust. We would then again be alone.”
One of three Green Party city council members and a Left Party member voted against the bill in the committee meeting
Critics of such measures have said they threaten free speech. Offman said freedom of speech is not endangered because “every BDS representative can present his thesis in a private room. Others can applaud him and be pleased. But not in city rooms.”
After The Jerusalem Post reported on a 2015 BDS event in the city-funded Gasteig cultural center, Munich’s Mayor Dieter Reiter told Knobloch that he would rope in anti-Israel events in municipality-funded buildings. Events pushing for economic warfare against Israel have flourished for years in Munich facilities such as Gasteig and the Eine-Welt-Haus.
The BDS activist and public school teacher Christoph Glanz sparked the row in 2015 at the Munich BDS event. The former Social Democratic Bundestag deputy Michaela Engelmeier termed Glanz a “racist and antisemite” because of his boycott activity. Glanz denies that he is an antisemite.
Reiter, a Social Democrat, said last month that Munich wants “in no uncertain term to place itself against the efforts of the antisemitic BDS movement.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.
Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.