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Germany disciplines diplomats for 'liking' anti-Israel tweets

The move was in response to 'liking' of anti-Israel tweets [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 July, 2019

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Ten people, including the head of Germany’s office in Ramallah, were disciplined for 'liking' a tweet from the @GerRepRamallah account that was deemed anti-Israel.
German authorities disciplined diplomats for “liking” anti-Israel tweets using the the official Twitter account of the German mission to the Palestinian territories, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Ten people, including the head of Germany’s office in Ramallah, Christian Clages, were disciplined for the move, the ministry said, noting all had access to the @GerRepRamallah account and it wasn’t clear who clicked the “likes.

The social media guidance sent to all diplomatic posts clarifies “that even ‘likes’ are understood as expressions of opinion of the German government” and now require the approval of two people.

The ministry says it “publicly made it clear the contents of the tweets concerned are unacceptable, contradict the attitude of the German government, and are not tolerated.”

The move came just a week after the US Congress on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the international movement to boycott Israel over its human rights violations and continued occupation of Palestine in a rare bipartisan vote.

Just 17 lawmakers voted against the non-binding resolution to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, widely known as BDS

The bill endorses the BDS movement by "affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution".

Read more: What is BDS and why should you care?

But Tuesday's successful resolution - backed by a bipartisan coalition of 398 lawmakers - argued just the opposite.

Ahead of voting, the bill's chief backers warned that BDS was dangerous for both Israel and the US.

"This issue has been politicized in a way that I find ugly and ultimately harmful to the US-Israel relationship," Democrat Congressman Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said.

According to an aide to Democrat Majority leader Steny Hoyer, a main backer of the resolution, the bill was a way to shield Democrat Congress members from repeated Republican efforts to criticise attack them over the issue of Israel.

An earlier version of the bill was passed in the Senate, but stalled in Congress amid concerns over First Amendment rights and the ability to protest Israel's policies.

The successful resolution has been pushed by AIPAC, an influential Israel lobby in Washington, and J Street, a more liberal pro-Israel advocacy group.

The bill puts Congress on record as standing against BDS but affirms the constitutional right of Americans to engage in "free speech, including the right to protest or criticize the policies of the United States or foreign governments".

The nonviolent BDS movement seeks to put an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank. It aims to pressure Israel to adhere to international law and human rights bypressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel.

Israel sees the movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

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