Dutch Government Rules That Movement to Boycott Israel Is 'Free Speech'

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: May 26, 2016 5:00 PM
Dutch Government Rules That Movement to Boycott Israel Is 'Free Speech'

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is an effort to pressure Israel to give up land that supposedly belongs to Palestinians. The anti-Semitic campaign is not, however, just limited to the Middle East - it has been sweeping America's college campuses at an alarming rate and is gaining traction in Europe. 

Israeli leaders, who had been trying to convince Europe to outlaw the movement, will be especially unnerved by Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders' latest announcement.

“Statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Koenders said Thursday during a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Dutch parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in The Hague.

In his explanation, Koenders said the Netherlands opposes a boycott of Israel, but that the right to endorse the movement is protected under freedom of expression.

Israel Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon, however, pushed back against that argument. There has to be some kind of limit, he insisted, when it comes to hate speech.

“Once free speech becomes a pretext for allowing hate speech, then it is no longer legitimate,” Nachshon said.

European governments should be discouraging, not giving ammunition to anti-Israel movements like BDS. For what it's worth, the White House has not exactly come out strongly against the campaign either. As Israel's friend, America's disapproval of BDS should be a no-brainer. 

So, a question: To whom can Israel look for support?