Paris, 14 June 2020 

Last Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – a tribunal that tests the jurisprudential rulings of European states – cancelled the French highest appeals court 2015 conviction against eleven BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists against the State of Israel.

France views BDS as an incitement to antisemitism. The ECHR ruled that the BDSers’ penalty violated their “freedom of expression.”

In 2010, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, was present on the scene, “as BDS ‘stormtroopers’ invest[ed] the kosher sections of French supermarkets, rushing their trollies past terrified cashiers, to burn their loot outside... French Jews cannot help but recall the Nazi and Vichy collaborator slogan 'Kaufen Nicht bei Juden' ('Do not buy from the Jews!').”

“Attacking the Kosher shelves (not just trashing Israeli products) is now tested under [French] laws...” Samuels' article was published in the collection “Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism and Delegitimizing Israel,” edited by the late Robert Wistrich (2016), University of Nebraska Press.

The Centre had applauded the activation of the 2003 French Lellouche Law, banning discrimination based on national origin and applied to the BDS cases.

In 2013, the Quai d’Orsay (Foreign Ministry) had reinforced the definition, “calling to boycott Israel is indeed illegal in France. Several decisions of the highest criminal court [Cour de Cassation] confirmed that calling to boycott breaks the law and constitutes an incitement to discrimination or hate based on national origin or religion.”

“The same French Cassation court upheld my four-year appeal on a charge of defamation brought against me by the CBSP (le Comité de Bienfaisance et Secours aux Palestiniens – the Committee for Charity and Support for the Palestinians)... Since then, the adoption – first by the European Parliament then by the French Parliament – of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of Antisemitism, also includes BDS”, noted Samuels.

“The Wiesenthal Centre is urging the French Justice Ministry to launch an immediate appeal against the European Court ruling, which has opened the floodgates for Nazi-style boycotts of both Israeli and Diaspora Jewish products across the continent,” concluded Samuels.