European Jews for a Just Peace welcomes the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling that people have the right to campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The BDS movement advocates boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli companies and companies that trade with Israel, and government sanctions on Israel, until Israel comes into compliance with international law and ends the occupation of Palestinian land.
On June 11th, The ECtHR ruled unanimously that the highest French court?s 2015 criminal conviction of a group of BDS activists who advocated non-violent boycotts of Israeli goods violated article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In 2009 and 2010, eleven activists in France had participated in peaceful protests inside supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli good in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. They were convicted by French courts of ?incitement to discrimination.? That was not the first time the French Justice Ministry tried to outlaw BDS. Through their persistence and courage, the BDS group proved itself right.
This is a major legal blow to Israel?s apartheid regime and its anti-BDS lawfare project, which tries to manipulate the law to ban BDS and other legitimate kinds of protest against Israeli policies.
The ECtHR decision will become a precedent in all EU member states. It will enable activists to overturn national and regional bans on BDS activities and university activities such as the apartheid weeks. France and Germany, which have fostered an ominous environment of bullying and repression to silence Palestine solidarity activists, will be particularly affected.
Europe is deeply complicit in Israel?s occupation, siege of Gaza and slow ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Palestinians in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and elsewhere. For as long as this complicity continues, BDS campaigns in Europe will continue.
Note: The European Court of Human Rights is the judicial arm of the Council of Europe, which is separate from the European Union. The UK remains a member despite having left the European Union. Therefore, this momentous ruling that BDS is legal applies in the UK.