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French High Court: BDS is a Form of Illegal Hate Speech

France’s highest appeals court last week upheld fines imposed on a dozen anti-Israel activists who were found guilty of “inciting hate or discrimination” by promoting a boycott of the Jewish state, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported Friday.

The rulings passed on Tuesday by the Paris-based Court of Cassation confirmed the convictions of 12 individuals by the Colmar Court of Appeals in connection with their 2009 and 2010 actions in supermarkets near the eastern city of Mulhouse.

The individuals arrived at the supermarket wearing shirts emblazoned with the words: “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel.” They also handed out flyers that said that “buying Israeli products means legitimizing crimes in Gaza.” …

In confirming the sentences, the Court of Cassation cited the French republic’s law on Freedom of the Press, which prescribes 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.”

Another French court had previously fined the individuals $14,500 collectively for their actions.

According to the JTA, dozens of anti-Israel activists who promoted boycotts of the Jewish state, including those affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, have been convicted in France of “inciting hate or discrimination.” Some have also been charged under an anti-racism law that bans “the targeting of specific nations for discriminatory treatment.”

Pascal Makowicz, head of the legal department for CRIF, the Jewish communal organization of France, wrote on the organization’s website that “BDS is illegal in France,” and that boycotts singling out Israel, “are completely illegal. If they say their freedom of expression has been violated, then now France’s highest legal instance ruled otherwise.”

Various BDS activists have previously gone on record opposing the two state solution and affirming that the movement seeks Israel’s destruction, with BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti saying in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” and leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil writing in 2012 that, “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

Last week, over 150 British artists, including Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, and renowned historian Simon Schama, signed a public letter calling cultural boycotts of Israel “divisive and discriminatory.”

[Photo: Michael Costa / YouTube ]