Dr. Ulrich Bleyer, the director of the Berlin-based Urania cultural and educational center, on Monday pulled the plug on a pro-Palestinian symposium with Iran’s embassy because the event legitimizes terrorism and seeks to dismantle Israel’s right to exist.
In a letter defending the decision to cancel the event slated for Friday, Bleyer wrote that he assumes the event will violate “Urania’s goals of international good will,” because “Israel’s right to exist will be contested or terror against Israel will be legitimized as resistance against an occupying power.”
The symposium titled “Palestine – Peace on the Basis of Justice” sparked criticism in early August. Nathan Gelbart, a Berlin-based attorney and expert on media law, sent a letter to Bleyer urging him to cancel Urania’s rental agreement with the organizers of the symposium.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday from Berlin, Gelbart, who practices law for the firm FPS, said he stressed in his letter that it was “very alarming” that the “cultural department of the Mullahs” planned to hold an event negating the existence of Israel.
He said the speakers slated to talk advocate “pure anti-Israel” positions and their prescriptions for solving the Israel- Palestinian conflict means the “destruction of Israel.”
As an example of the group’s aim to delegitimize Israel, Gelbart observed that the invitation for the event stated that for “nearly seven decades” Israel has engaged in an “occupation violating international law.”
The reference to almost seven decades signifies the founding period of the State of Israel.
The publicist Petra Wild planned to speak at the Urania symposium. She authored the book Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine: Zionistic Settler Colonialism in Word and Deed. Wild advocates “overcoming the racist-Zionist ideology” in the form of a one-state solution.
The German physician Gabi Weber from Café Palestine in the city of Freiburg was slated to talk. Weber said the Urania capitulated to the “Israel lobby.”
Last week, the German journalist Jennifer Nathalie Pyka wrote a stinging commentary in Germany’s main Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung, blasting the management of the Urania for providing space for “anti-Semitic propaganda.”
She wrote that the Urania closes its eyes so long as hate is directed at Israel and labeled as criticism.
The reversal comes as a surprise because the Urania hosted an event with Iran’s embassy in 2006.
Writing on the website of the fringe anti-Israel website Linke Zeitung, Wild said the opponents are accusing the event organizers of anti-Semitism because they seek to “morally defame” the speakers and fail to produce argument against the event.
Yavuz Özoguz, who runs the pro-Iran regime website “Muslim- Markt” was slated to speak at the Urania event. Raif Hussein, the chairman of the German- Palestinian community, was listed as a speaker.
The Berlin-chapter of Stop the Bomb, an anti-Iranian regime group, along with the German-Israel friendship society, sent protest letters to the Urania.
Gelbart told the Post it was a “joint success for the friends of humanity and democracy” that the rental agreement for the anti-Israel event was rescinded.