BDS activists in Spain dealt series of legal blows, face criminal charges

By
February 15, 2017 09:54

The Council had passed a decision in the spring of 2016 committing itself to the BDS movement and declaring the town as a “Free Space of Israeli Apartheid.”

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Protest against Gaza operation in Spain

DEMONSTRATORS MARCH with Palestinian flags during a protest against the Israeli offensive against Gaza, in Valencia, Spain. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The time has come to end the impunity, force accountability and create real deterrence against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in Spain, Angel Mas, president of the Spanish pro-Israel lobby ACOM told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

He made the comments following a report that a special public attorney for hatred crimes has begun investigations to clarify if a local city council government incurred criminal responsibilities for incitement to hatred following its declared boycott of Israel.

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According to ACOM, last month a court issued a resolution annulling the boycott against Israel by the city council of Xeraco - a small Mediterranean town of some 6,000 inhabitants south of Valencia.
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The Council had passed a decision in the spring of 2016 committing itself to the BDS movement and declaring the town as a “Free Space of Israeli Apartheid.”

The Magistrate stressed that the boycott is in effect “a rejection of tenders based on their opinions.”

Moreover, the decision explains that asking for statements on a controversial issue of foreign affairs is “inappropriate” for a city council, which is bound to “impartially serve the general interest of its neighbors, an area where is preeminent, the absence of coercion into the beliefs of others.”

“We believe that at this point there are clear personal responsibilities involved, both on the side of the activists and on the part of the authorities approving these discriminatory measures,” Mas said.

He explained that if the BDS activists resort to violence, threats and intimidation, it is “normal” that they end up facing the criminal legal system in the country.

The motion for the Xeraco boycott was proposed by Compromis, the party currently in power, with the support of PSOE-PSV and “Canviar Xeraco” (Change Xeraco), a coalition made up of Podemos, Izquierda Unida, and ERC, extreme Left and Catalan separatist parties, respectively. The centrist-right PP abstained from voting.

Podemos is a rising political party with reported financial ties to the Iranian and Venezuelan regimes.

The well-funded party has gained access to public institutions, local government and has also gained control over the city councils of cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, Spain’s three largest.

According to ACOM, Podemos has used its presence in local governments over the past year to promote an aggressive institutional BDS campaign that to date has declared some 50 city councils throughout the country “free of Israeli apartheid” – declarations which continue on a regular basis.

“Equally, if national, regional and local governments continue funding BDS groups that engage in illegal conducts, they will themselves be incurring in irregular behaviors that we will analyze and act on if granted,” Mas added.

The court’s decision to investigate criminal responsibilities coincides with another decision taken last week by another Spanish Court which admitted into procedure a criminal complaint against nine BDS activists for the boycott and harassment of Jewish American singer Matisyahu in the summer of 2015.

These two decisions add to another dozen municipalities that have had to reverse their boycott declarations and another four whose application was suspended by the courts as a result of legal initiatives undertaken by ACOM, in collaboration with the US-based Lawfare Project.

“Unfortunately, the evident unlawfulness of the initiatives of the BDS movement, promoting unconstitutional discrimination against pro-Israel persons and companies in Spain, has not prevented its activists from pursuing their aggressive campaign,” Mas said.

Nevertheless, he explained that for the first time public attorneys are adopting measures proactively against BDS activities as a legal doctrine, and precedent is being created by court decisions.

When asked how the repeated court rulings against boycott declarations were affecting the BDS activists and their strategy, Mas said that “Since the beginning, the BDS movement tried to disguise their anti-Semitic ends behind a mask of humanitarian rhetoric.”

With the legal defeats, he explained the BDS tactics have changed by trying to avoid legal actions and confuse naive politicians and an uninformed public opinion.

“But they have been publicly exposed. The reality is that the behind that movement there is an antisemitic ideology and their means and ends are fundamentally unconstitutional in Spain, where the authorities cannot discriminate [against] citizens for reason of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin, he said.

“All that is at the core of BDS and, hence, their initiatives will continue being challenged by ACOM and rejected by the courts of justice.”

Mas added that the logical next step is for legislation that tackles what kinds of decisions regarding boycotts local authorities can take, as well as what kind of activities hostile to friendly countries state institutions can fund and what kind of discriminatory initiatives are definitively not lawful in Spain.

“We do see that as a logical next step and we believe it will be possible to create ample consensus around it as the main national parties have already expressly positioned themselves against BDS,” he said.

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