Austrian MP declares BDS movement to be antisemitic

It will likely be submitted to a vote in January, when it should sail through due to the wall-to-wall political support for the measure.

SUPPORTERS OF the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) react after first exit polls in the general election during a party meeting in Vienna, Austria, in October. (photo credit: REUTERS)
SUPPORTERS OF the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) react after first exit polls in the general election during a party meeting in Vienna, Austria, in October.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Austrian MP who has been one of the principal advocates of a parliamentary resolution to combat antisemitism and ban government support for BDS groups has insisted that denying Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic, and that his motion seeks to counter such invective.
Reinhold Lopatka, a member of the Austria’s lower house of its parliament, the National Council, for the Austria People’s Party, told The Jerusalem Post that antisemitism in the country needs to be decisively refuted, and that the BDS campaign was itself antisemitic.
As reported by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Lopatka and other members of parliament have submitted a motion to the National Council to combat antisemitism in the country, and to ban federal funds from going to organizations that back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Remarkably, the motion has been backed by all five parties currently represented in the National Council from right to left, including the Austrian People’s Party, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, the Social Democratic Party, the New Austria and Liberal Forum, and the Green Party.
The motion calls on the Austria federal government “to develop a holistic strategy” to combat antisemitism, and to “strongly condemn the BDS movement and its goals, in particular the call for a boycott of Israeli products, companies, artists, scientists or athletes.”
It also requests that the federal government “not provide premises and infrastructure” to organizations that express themselves in antisemitic terms “or question Israel’s right to exist,” and to ensure that no federal financial support goes to BDS organizations and events.
It will likely be submitted to a vote in January, when it should sail through due to the wall-to-wall political support for the measure.
Although it is not strictly a piece of legislation, its adoption will instruct the government how to act and will be “politically binding,” according to Lopatka, meaning that the government will adhere to its stipulations.
Asked how support from every party in the National Council was obtained, Lopatka said that the Freedom Party has been seeking to repair its image as a far-right party founded by former Nazis, and the Social Democratic Party had lost its strong connection to the Palestinians and their cause that it previously had in the 1970s and 1980s.
Lopatka said the resolution was necessary because there has been an increase in antisemitic sentiment in the country, which he attributed to a large wave of immigration from Muslim-majority countries, along with the revival of far-right politics in Austria and Europe in general.
He said that 90,000 immigrants from Muslim countries had arrived in Austria since 2015, and that the Muslim population had grown from 8,000 in 1960 to 700,000 today.
Lopatka asserted that this population holds significantly higher levels of antisemitic sentiment than the rest of the country, and that together with far-right elements in the country the situation required a clear declaration of intent from the National Council.
The parliamentarian also argued that the BDS movement is antisemitic since its real aims are to end the Jewish state.
“What we want to say is that BDS is a form of expression of antisemitism, which is popular among left-wing groups that like to deny Israel’s right of existence,” he said. “This is clear manifestation of antisemitism. Israel is an essential haven for the Jewish people, who unlike others, have nowhere else to go if they need to leave where they are.”


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