#BDSfail: France’s highest appeals court upholds conviction of a dozen anti-Israel activists who had been found guilty of “inciting hate or discrimination” by promoting the boycott of Israel and of Israeli products.
• Meanwhile in the UK, 340 British academics advocate the academic boycott of Israel.
France’s highest appeals court affirmed last week that boycott, divestment, and sanctions calls against Israel are a form of illegal hate speech.
The Paris-based Court of Cassation’s ruling came in a case in which it denied an appeal filed by a dozen anti-Israel activists who had been convicted of “inciting hate or discrimination” by promoting the boycott of Israel and of Israeli products.
The case involved incidents that took place in 2009 and 2010 in supermarkets near the eastern city of Mulhouse. The activists had staged protests outside the stores, wearing shirts reading “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel,” and handing out flyers advising shoppers that “buying Israeli products means legitimizing crimes in Gaza.”
Originally convicted by the Colmar Court of Appeals, the activists were collectively fined $14,500.
The Paris court upheld the fine, citing France’s Freedom of the Press laws, which “prescribe imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for parties that provoke discrimination, hatred or violence toward a person or group of people, on grounds of their origin, their belonging or their not belonging to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a certain religion.”
The conviction is also in line with France’s Lellouche Law of 2003, which extends anti-racism laws to the targeting of specific nations for discriminatory treatment.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, 340 British academics from 72 institutions published an ad in the British newspaper The Guardian urging an academic boycott against Israel.
In the ad, titled “A commitment by U.K. scholars to the rights of Palestinians,” the signatories pledge not to visit Israeli academic institutions or take part in events organized or funded by them. The signatories stated that they would, however, continue working with individual Israeli academics.
The move was aimed at countering a letter of support signed by over 150 British artists and writers condemning boycotts against Israel and calling for coexistence and dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead of the London School of Economics told The Guardian that organizers believe Israeli universities are “at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The Israeli Embassy in London responded by issuing a statement saying, “Boycott movements only aim to sow hatred and alienation, rather than promoting coexistence.”
British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey condemned the ad, saying he was “deeply committed” to promoting academic and scientific ties between Israel and the U.K.
Quarrey quoted British Prime Minister David Cameron as saying the British government “will never allow those who want to boycott Israel to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger.”
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