Vienna hotel cancels BDS talk by South African terrorism financier

By
June 28, 2017 22:26

The planned talk titled “Israel & Apartheid South Africa – How Valid are the Comparisons?” was slated to take place on Friday and has been re-located to the Austrian-Arab Meeting Center.

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Manifestants pro-BDS à Berlin

BDS activists in Berlin. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Hotel Arcotel pulled the plug on a BDS event last week with Farid Esack, a South African Islamic theologian, who has raised money for a Palestinian terrorist.

The planned talk titled “Israel & Apartheid South Africa – How Valid are the Comparisons?” was slated to take place on Friday and has been re-located to the Austrian-Arab Meeting Center (ÖAB).

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BDS Austria announced the Arcotel’s cancellation in a press statement on Friday. Esack is the chairman of BDS South Africa—a powerful anti-Israel organization— defended calls to "shoot the Jew" during a protest against a concert by an Israeli musician Daniel Zamir in 2013.

Esack, who claims he propagates "progressive Islam," said in 2015 he "would not pray" for Jewish victims murdered by Islamic State terrorists in the attack on a Kosher supermarket in Paris.

Samuel Laster, a Vienna-based journalist with an expertise in Israeli-Austrian relations, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that "the ÖAB is a collection of ‘anti-Imperialists’ who are known for their rude criticism of Israel, which frequently crosses the line into antisemitism.”

Laster, who is the editor-in-chief of the popular German-language website “The Jewish,” said anti-Israel groups have not had success in holding BDS events in Vienna. A receptionist at the Hotel Arcotel told the Post on Wednesday that the management was not available to comment on the cancellation.

In 2015, Esack’s BDS organization held a series of fund-raisers with Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the US and EU have designated as a terrorist organization.

The BDS South Africa website shows a photograph of Khaled hosted by the group with a caption that reads, “Leila Khaled fund-raising dinner in Rustenburg.” A second photograph carries the caption: “Leila Khaled fundraising dinner in Pretoria.”

Khaled was a key member of a terrorist cell that hijacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969. A year later, she participated in the attempted hijacking of EL AL Flight 219. BDS South Africa termed Khaled a “Palestine icon” on its website.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Post in March that South Africa’s First National Bank should terminate the account it holds for BDS South Africa.

In March, the Vienna-based hotels Kaiserwasser and Regina refused to provide rooms to BDS Austria events. One of Austria’s largest companies – the Erste Group – closed a bank account held by BDS Austria in 2016 due to suspected violations of New York State law.

After German media and Jerusalem Post exposes on Esack’s alleged antisemitism in early 2017, the University of Hamburg regretted offering him a guest professorship in October,2016.

“This is a man [Farid Esack] who expressed antisemitic statements, and who is sympathetic to Holocaust denial. A person with such views has no place as an educator in a university, in particular not in Germany; due to both professional as well as moral and probably also legal reasons,” Israel’s embassy in Berlin told the Post in January..

Carsten Ovens, scientific spokesman of the Christian Democratic Union party in Hamburg, told Die Welt in connection with Esack: “Who today under the flag of the BDS movement calls to boycott Israeli goods and services speaks the same language in which people were called on not to buy from Jews.”

Post press queries to BDS South Africa and the ÖAB were  not immediately returned.

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