Austrian Press Council: Calling BDS 'antisemitic' not a violation of code

The Austrian Press Council wrote “numerous institutions and state institutions classify the BDS movement as antisemitic."

An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS (photo credit: REUTERS)
An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Austrian press body issued a decision on Friday declaring that labeling the BDS campaign targeting Israel as “antisemitic” is not a violation of the organization’s ethical code.
The Austrian Press Council wrote “numerous institutions and state institutions classify the BDS movement as antisemitic. In view of this, the Senate seems to have justified the antisemitism allegation made by the news outlet” against the BDS group.
The Press group also said freedom of the media protects the paper’s right to term BDS an antisemitic movement.
A chapter of the BDS campaign in the Austrian state of Styria filed a complaint last year with the Austrian Press Council against the daily Kleine Zeitung, in which the anti-Israel group claimed the BDS movement is not antisemitic.
According to the Press Council, the BDS entity said the international campaign to sanction Israel opposes “Israeli policies” via the “mass expulsion” of Palestinians but does not reject Jews.
“It is irrelevant whether the BDS movement considers itself antisemitic or if other people contradict this classification. The Senate [of the Press Council] also disagreed with the Styrian association on the other complaints regarding the article,” the Council ruled.
Critics of the BDS campaign say that its demand that all Palestinian “refugees” return to Israel would mean the abolition of the Jewish democratic State, and that meets the definition of contemporary antisemitism. Last May, the German Bundestag classified BDS as antisemitic.
The Austrian Press Council noted that the BDS group in Styria engages in actions that “disrupt” events. “In this respect, the claim that the BDS movement is by no means antisemitic does not coincide with the existing knowledge, according to the media owner,” wrote the Austrian Press Council.
The Austrian Press Council identifies itself is an “association whose members are the most important journalists and publishing houses,” adding that it “works for responsible journalism.”
In November, The Jerusalem Post reported the central Austrian city of Graz outlawed public space and institutional support for the BDS movement, as well as for political Islam.
According to legislation reviewed by the Post, the city council of Graz announced that “Municipal services are not allowed to support group events that pursue or promote the goals of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and political Islam.”
The law added that “Space and institutions that are under the city administration must not be made available to organizations that express themselves in antisemitic terms or question Israel’s right to exist.”
The capital of Austria, Vienna, passed an anti-BDS resolution in 2018, which unanimously proscribed the organization as antisemitic and banned support for “events that advertise for BDS.”
The Austrian parliament is slated to pass a resolution against BDS.