Germany’s Unexpected Turn against the Boycott-Israel Movement

In recent years, a major organizing impetus for anti-Israel activity in Western Europe and the U.S. has come in the form of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS), which, despite its limited economic impact, has done much to generate anti-Jewish sentiment. While Germany is home to an active wing of BDS—which has made inroads with far-left parties and a few years ago seemed poised to go mainstream—the movement faced a sudden reversal when, last year, the Bundestag passed a resolution declaring its “arguments and methods . . . anti-Semitic.” The resolution has few legal ramifications, but much symbolic import. In a history of the BDS movement in Germany, Benjamin Weinthal explains what changed:

The story begins with a 2012 EU initiative to affix special labels to Israeli imports from settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights. After a debate that lasted through 2015, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel came down in favor of the labels, a decision that placed it on the side of the BDS campaign.

The political environment began to change, however, with a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. Jewish communities across the continent had to contend with violence and verbal abuse. By 2019, the situation in Germany had worsened to the point that Merkel said, “There is to this day not a single synagogue, not a single daycare center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.”

Despite some minority voices, the German perception of BDS as anti-Semitic has resulted in major setbacks for the campaign. In the German view, the BDS campaign singles out the state of Israel for opprobrium and calls for its complete isolation yet does not advocate any comparable pressure on Hamas or the Palestinian Authority for their abusive and authoritarian conduct. Nor does the BDS campaign demand accountability for the regimes in Damascus and Beijing, whose atrocities exceed by orders of magnitude even the gravest offenses committed in the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict. German lawmakers explicitly assess that the application of double standards to the Jewish state is anti-Semitic in nature. In practice, there is little difference between the slogans “Don’t buy from Jews” and “Don’t buy from the Jewish state.”

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Read more at FDD

More about: Angela Merkel, Anti-Semitism, BDS, German Jewry, Germany

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin