Tavernes’ mayor faces anti-Semitism action
By Joe Wickman LEGAL action has begun against Tavernes town council for its alleged links to an ‘antiSemitism’ campaign – and could lead to criminal charges against the mayor.
A total of 12 councillors in La Safor’s northernmost town, including mayor Jordi Juan i Huguet, have reportedly joined the international movement known in Spanish as Boicot, Desinversiones y Sanciones contra Israel, or BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions).
It aims are to encourage exactly as the name suggests among as many countries as possible until Israel withdraws from occupied territories, brings down the West Bank barrier, enshrines equal rights for Arab-Palestinians in Israel in law, and allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
The BDS is in league with anti-apartheid associations and draws parallels between the two issues.
But those who oppose the BDS point out that Jews and Arab Palestinians mingle freely and live next door to each other everywhere in Israel except on the West Bank, with no forced segregation, unlike the obligatory split between white and black communities in South Africa until the 1990s.
Dissenters of the BDS have compared it to the Nazis boycotting Jewish traders in the run-up to World War II, and call it antisemitic.
As well as pushing for countries to stop investing in and trading with Israel, the BDS movement urges artists, sportspersons and academics to refuse to hold or take part in any events in the Mediterranean country, and puts pressure on Israelis not to join any activities outside their country. According to the Action and Communication on the Middle East (ACOM) association, the motion tabled and approved in Tavernes de la Valldigna in March 2016 to join the BDS – seconded by the socialists, United Left and the reigning party Compromís – was based upon a text that ‘incited hate’ and ‘made it clear’ that it supported ‘active discrimination’ against Israel and also against ‘any person, Spanish, Israeli or foreign, Jewish or non-Jewish, who did not support the political objectives’ of the BDS.
If it turns out Tavernes’ mayor and the other 11 councillors are guilty of anti-Semitism, they could be hit with a ban on holding public office, or even a suspended or actual prison sentence. UK town councils faced legal action four years ago by the Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) group, including Swansea, Gwynedd, and Leicester.
The latter opted to boycott only goods coming from illegal Israeli West Bank settlements to discourage the continuing occupation.
But the JHRW’s case was thrown out by the High Court and then the Court of Appeal in July this year, and all local authorities involved were acquitted of anti-Semitism. MORE funding and staff for obstetrics and paediatrics have been ‘accidentally’ approved for Llíria hospital after a moment’s confusion in regional Parliament.
The PP and Ciudadanos had proposed the additional cash as part of the region’s 2019 budget, but it looked set to be rejected.
Parliamentary chair Enric Morera, opening the votes on the budget entries, announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, the meeting has started,” then corrected himself – “oops, I mean the voting has started.”
Laughter at his slip-up followed, and a number of MPs did not hear Morera’s ‘amendment’, whilst others became distracted – and missed casting their vote.
Out of 95 MPs, only 71 voted, of whom 41 were the PP and Ciudadanos, whilst 30 from other parties voted against and 24 failed to hit the buzzers in time.
Voting rounds, even if mistakes are made, are binding, meaning the proposal has gone through and cannot be reversed.
Deputy spokeswoman for Compromís – the joint ruling party in regional government along with the socialists – Mireia Mollà said Morera had not finished saying that the voting had commenced, which is why so many MPs did not hit their yes/no buttons.
But Morera – also Compromís – admitted he had finished the sentence and that there was ‘no going back’.