June 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

German Intelligence Agency Classifies BDS Campaign as ‘Extremist’ Threat

June 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

German Intelligence Agency Classifies BDS Campaign as ‘Extremist’ Threat

Latest Developments

The German intelligence agency charged with monitoring extremist threats classified the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) campaign as a case of “suspected extremism” for the first time. In its report on extremist trends issued on June 18, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) highlighted the close ties between BDS — which advocates for the total economic, political, and cultural boycott of Israel as a prelude to its elimination as a sovereign state — and what it termed “secular Palestinian extremism.”

The report also concluded that the call in the 2005 founding manifesto of BDS for an end to the “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” amounted to a demand for “the end to the existence of Israel as a state.” Furthermore, the report noted that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were among the Palestinian organizations to have endorsed BDS.

Formed in the aftermath of World War II to defend against neo-Nazi and other domestic extremist threats, the BfV has been monitoring external challenges to German democracy since the 1970s. Its decision to probe BDS came in the wake of the October 7 Hamas-led massacre in Israel, with the report noting that “BDS-affiliated groups mobilized and participated in many anti-Israel gatherings and intensified their demands for an end to alleged ‘Israeli apartheid’” following the assault.   

Expert Analysis

“The significance of an intelligence agency created to combat neo-Nazi agitation in postwar Germany classifying BDS, which seeks Israel’s destruction, as an extremist threat should not be lost on anyone. In doing so, the BfV has exposed the true nature of BDS — not a peaceful, civil society campaign but an integral propaganda component of the increasingly global war against the State of Israel, its people, and its supporters in democracies around the world.” — Ben Cohen, FDD Senior Analyst and Rapid Response Manager

“BDS is an extension of the decades-long campaign to erase Israel through terrorism. It is therefore no surprise that Palestinian terrorist groups are among the most ardent supporters of BDS. Germany continues to be ahead of the curve in recognizing this threat.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Germany Steps Up Measures Against Palestinian Extremist Groups

In the weeks after the October 7 atrocities, German police carried out raids against suspected Hamas supporters across the country, while the Interior Ministry banned both Hamas and Samidoun, an organization that advocates for Palestinian imprisoned in Israel, many of whom have been convicted for terrorism. For most of the post-World War II period, Germany has described its special responsibility toward Israel’s security as a “Staatsräson” — a reason of state arising from the crimes of the Nazi Holocaust. Berlin is Israel’s second-largest arms supplier after the United States. Deutsche Welle, citing the German Economy Ministry’s data, reported that in 2023, Germany sold Israel $353.7 million in military equipment and weapons. In 2019, a cross-party alliance in the German parliament passed a resolution condemning BDS as “antisemitic,” and cutting off funds to organizations supporting the campaign.

Germany Rejects Nicaragua’s ‘Biased’ ICJ Case,” FDD Flash Brief

Germany Stands by Israel,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Kurdish Solidarity Delegation from Germany Visits Israel,” by Seth J. Frantzman

European Union Ministers Threaten Israel With Prospect of Sanctions,” FDD Flash Brief

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Israel Israel at War