French BDS activists lose high court appeal over racism convictions

(JTA) – A French appeals court upheld the hate-crime convictions of anti-Israel activists who called at a demonstration for a boycott of the Jewish state.

The ruling delivered last week by the French Cassation Court concerned seven activists whom a criminal appeals court in Caen in southern France slapped with a $1,000 fine each and a conviction for calling for discriminatory acts during the 2010 demonstration outside a supermarket that sold Israeli goods.

The March 30 conviction comes six month after a similar ruling by the same court on a different case from 2009 and 2010, which involved 12 activists of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, or BDS.

The convictions are based on jurisprudence that views BDS as discriminatory and on a law from 2003 which extended anti-racist legislation to encouraging discrimination, including boycotts, against countries or their peoples.

The seven activists from Caen were prosecuted following the final filing of criminal complaints against them by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA, and two other nonprofits: Alliance France Israel and Lawyers Without Borders, BNVCA wrote on its website.

In a statement about the March 30 ruling, BNVCA called it “a new victory over the illegal BDS movement.”

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