A court has ruled that the boycott of Israel can be debated in urban areas. You don’t have to like BDS to like it.
The Bavarian Administrative Court (VGH) has announced an important ruling on freedom of expression. A general ban on discussing a boycott of Israel in urban areas is illegal. A corresponding decision by the Munich City Council violates the Basic Law.
As always when there is a dispute about freedom of expression, one thing must be emphasized in advance: Allowing an opinion does not mean approving it. Granting freedom of expression is not a seal for particularly valuable thoughts, but a basic requirement of a free state. Everyone should be able to say what he / she thinks. And this should also be open to public discussion.
How extensive the Munich ban was can already be seen in the specific legal dispute. Civil rights activists wanted to discuss the city council resolution and freedom of expression. But even that was not allowed because the reason for the resolution, the demand for a boycott of Israel, could also be discussed.
The judges have rightly not gone into the depths of the discussion about the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions). Because it is not a question of whether BDS is “anti-Semitic”, as the Munich City Council thinks, or whether legitimate actionist criticism of the Israeli occupation policy is being expressed here. Even anti-Semitism – unless laws or public order are violated – is protected by freedom of expression.
The Federal Constitutional Court has even granted the anti-constitutional NPD the right to use city halls for their party conferences. Anyone who remembers this should not be surprised when the Bavarian VGH ensures that theses of the BDS movement can be discussed and propagated in municipal Munich buildings.
It is politically correct to only touch the BDS movement, especially in Germany, with the tip of your fingers. But it is also right, especially in Germany, to allow as few exceptions as possible to freedom of expression.