Demonstrators take part in a pro-Israel rally in Munich.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter on Friday refused a request from Israel’s consul- general in the city to pull the plug on an allegedly anti-Semitic event in a municipal building advocating a boycott of the Jewish state.
“We are in touch with the municipality of Munich in order to prevent this event from happening,” diplomat Dan Shaham wrote to The Jerusalem Post on Friday. “We are awaiting their decision.”
Reiter’s press spokesman, Stefan Hauf, wrote the Post: “The mayor made a call to General-Consul Dan Shaham and argued that he does not have a basis to cancel the event. According to the cultural representative, the event is merely a lecture, and a call to boycott is not planned.”
Shaham told the Post on Saturday, “We are sorry that this anti-Semitic BDS group has been allowed to use a municipal room to call for a boycott against Israel, which is by law not allowed in Germany.”
He added that the boycott- Israel event is taking place two days before the memorial events for the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and “in a city that in which National Socialism had its beginning.”
“Those who do not see the anti-Semitic tone and character of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign do not want to see it,” Volker Beck, a Bundestag deputy for the Green Party, told the Post. “[Advocating BDS] is indeed protected by freedom of expression, but this should not be sponsored by a particular city’s municipality. I consider that unacceptable.”
The Central Council of Jews in Germany on Wednesday awarded Beck, the head of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, its prestigious Leo Baeck award for his efforts to combat all forms of anti-Semitism.
Hauf did not respond to a Post email regarding Beck’s criticism.
In a highly publicized court case, France’s highest court of appeals in late October found advocates of a boycott against Israel guilty of inciting hate and discrimination. BDS activity is outlawed in France but remains legal in Germany.
Reiter’s decision to permit a taxpayer-funded municipal venue to allegedly incite hatred against the Jewish state comes at a sensitive time.
Munich will host a Holocaust remembrance event two days after the boycott event to mark 77 years to the day since the Nazis’ Kristallnacht pogroms of November 9-10, 1938.
The decision by Reiter, a Social Democrat, to not intervene has marred the celebrations of 50 years of German-Israeli diplomatic relations.
In response to a series of Post questions to the mayor, his spokesman said he “rejects a boycott of Israel” and that “anti-Semitic statements will not be tolerated in city rooms.
“The Munich city library provided rent-free space in its lecture hall for a series of events on ’Palestine/Israel – Fall 2015,’ including a lecture about ’the background to the development and the effect‘ of the BDS campaign,” Hauf said. “The mayor was not involved in the decision.”
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office and the organization’s chief Nazi-hunter, told the Post that the BDS event “should not be hosted in a municipal building.”
“The irony is it takes place on the eve of Kristallnacht,” he said. “This is part of a serious problem of German public life. The Holocaust is sacrosanct, but it is open season on the State of Israel. They do not see the connection between anti-Semitism of the Holocaust and its heirs’ attack on the legitimacy of State of Israel.”
The group “I like Israel” announced a demonstration against the BDS lecture on Saturday in front of the entrance to the Gasteig municipal building.