FRANCE. 12 activists for the boycott against Israel are criminalized

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Source: / The Dawn / November 4th, 2015.- The French National Chamber of Criminal Appeals has ratified last week the sentence aginst a dozen activists of the BDS campaign (Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction to the Zionist State of Israel) campaign. Numerous voices raise to protest against this “attack on free speech”.

The Chamber, which is the highest French court jurisdiction, condemned the Mulhouse militants who had participated in actions that appealed to boycott Israeli products, between 2009 and 2010. The militants had invited customers of an Alsatian supermarket not to buy or consume products from Israel, as part of the local Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The legal concept that serves as an excuse for this unjust ruling is “incitement to national, racial and religious discrimination” and it sentences each of the condemned to pay 32,000 euros.

As reported by The Forward, the court “quoted the law of the French Republic of Freedom of the Press, which establishes imprisonment or a fine of up to $ 50,000 to parties that ’cause discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of people, because of their origin or for belonging or not belonging to an ethnic group, nation, race or religion”. Given that the BDS initiative is inherently “discriminatory”, argued the court, it is a crime to defend it.

In a statement, the pro-BDS militants said: “In another time, a sentence like this would have made it impossible to boycott the racist South Africa for fighting the apartheid”. And they wonder: “Is the South African boycott of the 70s and 80s —which was one of the key factors for the abolition of the Apartheid and the achievement of victory for the humanity— also an illegal and punishable action?”

For his part, lawyer Pascal Markowicz, a member of the Steering Committee of CRIF (Council that represents Jewish institutions in France) celebrated “this good news that now boycott is illegal in this country”.

Meanwhile, renowned US investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, to whom former analyst of the National Security Agency US (NSA) Edward Snowden gave his leaked information in 2013, said that the resolution is part of a global trend. As more and more people throughout the world “recognize the criminal and brutal nature” of Israel, those who remain loyal to the State increment the criminalization against activists who denounce the Israeli occupation.

According to Greenwald, there has to be a reflection on the fact that ‘to the West it is perfectly legal to promote sanctions against Iran, Russia, Sudan or any other country while the embargo and boycott of Israel is illegal and criminal.

“Where are those who insisted, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, on the defense of freedom of expression because it was so vital to everything that is good and just in the Western world?, and why is there not a hashtag #JeSuisBDS in defense of these activists who have been persecuted and condemned by France for their political opinions?”, said the journalist.

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