Three Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists have gone to trial Monday in Germany for protesting at an event featuring an Israeli political representative in the capital city of the country.
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The charges are related to an event from June 2017 at Berlin’s Humboldt University. Aliza Lavie, a member of Israel’s parliament attended the event where she spoke about how the LGBTQ community have rights in Israel compared to other nations in the Middle East, a practice known by activists as pinkwashing as the Israeli government attempts to distract from the country's persecution and occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Majed Abusalama, a Palestinian from Gaza living Germany and two Israeli activists, Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai, protested the “pinkwashing” by the Israeli lawmakers. They also spoke about Lavies’ support for 2014 attack on Gaza in a 50-day military operation by the Isreali military that killed more than 1,500 people, most of them civilians.
After the protest, the three campaigners were charged with trespassing and one of them charged with assault. They came to be known as the Humboldt Three.
Before the trial, Majed Abusalama, who grew up in the besieged Gaza strip, said, “We are not concerned with the outcome of the trial ... We are working towards exposing, resisting and eventually ending Israel’s barbaric [system of] apartheid.”
He also said Palestinians are suffering a “slow genocide.”
They were charged after German-Israeli Friendship society, which organized the event, filed a complaint against them. The society is known for its anti-BDS stand.
After the trial, Abusalama wrote on Facebook, “We just finished a 4-hour court on crimes against humanity and BDS in Germany. I will inform you all later,” while also thanking singer and activist Roger Waters for his support.
Their lawyers said there is no evidence of criminal activities against the activists and charges are not based on what actually happened. The charges also violate the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of the three.
They are also worried that the trial will equate criticism of Zionism with anti-Semitism, a trend that is increasing worldwide as was with the case of U.S. lawmaker Ilhan Omar being recently accused of anti-Semitism when she criticized Israel’s influence on the United States politics.
The Humboldt Three have already been called anti-Semitic in Israeli media.
The German parliament has passed resolutions in the past that equates BDS with anti-Semitism. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron also said that “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism.”