Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, condemns attacks on human rights defenders and affirms the rights of European citizens to freedom of expression and association, including through participation in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In response to a question on whether the EU commission will commit to defending BDS activists’ right to exercise their democratic freedom of expression, put forward by MEP Martina Anderson, the EU High Representative stated:
"The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States’ territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory."
Mogherini also affirmed that "Freedom of expression, as underlined by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, is also applicable to information or ideas ‘that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population."
Having failed to hinder the growing support and impact of the BDS movement in the mainstream, Israel has launched an unprecedented anti-democratic campaign to silence Palestine rights activism and outlaw BDS.
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A month ago Brussels Airlines announced that, further to requests by Palestinian passengers, it had stopped offering a sweet (Halva), as it was produced in the Occupied Territories.
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The global movement supporting the Palestinian people’s right to freedom, justice and equality has taken impressive steps into the political mainstream in recent years. Efforts by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to hold Israel accountable for its serious violations of international law and to end international complicity in these violations are more widely supported and impactful than ever before.
Israel’s current government, its most racist ever, has dropped all pretences of "enlightenment" and "democracy". This has helped to expose Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to world public opinion like never before. In this context, and given the fast spread of BDS in recent years, Israel has tried hard but failed to slow down its gradually intensifying international isolation in the academic, cultural, sports and, to a lesser extent, economic sphere.
As a result, Israel, its lobby groups and its right-wing supporters have launched an unprecedented, well-funded global campaign to silence Palestinian narratives and criminalize BDS advocacy, especially in western countries. Israeli-induced attacks on free speech and civil rights in Europe, the US and Canada, among others, are fostering an ominous environment of bullying, intimidation and repression that has all the hallmarks of the era of McCarthyism in the US and the worst days of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
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Separating anti-Semitism from Anti-Zionism
The distinction between Zionism and Judaism remains in constant need of clarification and discussion. Fanatics closed to discussion believe in their moral superiority and create political terror so as to silence and deny. The charge of “delegitimizing Israel “ requires one to question what the Israeli government is hiding and whether Israel has not delegitimized itself through decades of illegal human rights abuses. I believe these abuses have contributed profoundly to the rise of true anti-Semitism in the world today.
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