December 24, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

German court upholds Munich’s ban of antisemitic BDS campaign

Munich's city council passed in December 2017 a law outlawing BDS events in public facilities due to the antisemitic nature of the campaign against the Jewish state.

A court in the southern German state of Bavaria affirmed the right of the city of Munich to ban Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions events from its public space, delivering a stinging defeat to BDS activists.

According to the December 12 Munich court decision obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the court said the city’s anti-BDS law does not undermine the “basic right of free speech in an improper way.” Munich’s city council passed a law in December 2017 outlawing BDS events in public facilities due to the antisemitic nature of the campaign against the Jewish state. The court case is believed to be the first judicial challenge to the city’s robust anti-BDS law.

“Munich sent a signal against antisemitism” that should be heeded for all of Germany, said Charlotte Knobloch, the chairwoman of Munich’s Jewish community, at the time.

The anti-BDS law is titled “Against every form of antisemitism – No cooperation with the antisemitic BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement.” According to the law, the municipality will “not provide city premises for BDS campaigns, events, exhibits or demonstrations that pursue the goals of BDS.”

In addition, the law states Munich will “not support events in the form of grants to groups” that advocate BDS.

Klaus Ried sought to use a city museum room for a BDS event in September 2018, and filed a legal challenge to the law after the museum denied him the space because the event was a violation of the city’s anti-BDS law.

The 23-page court opinion noted that the city’s anti-BDS law used modern definitions of antisemitism to establish that BDS is an antisemitic campaign, including the definition from the The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The cities of Frankfurt and Berlin have also banned BDS events in municipal buildings. Frankfurt has prohibited city commercial business with banks that engage in BDS.

The Jerusalem Post first reported on widespread BDS activities in Munich’s municipal buildings in late 2016, prompting a public debate about the usage of municipal venues to wage boycott campaigns against the Jewish state.

Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.