The German Protestant Academy in the municipality of Bad Boll in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg is coming under scathing criticism from the Israeli government and American NGOs for hosting a conference that features a who’s who of German supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the boycott campaign against the Jewish state.
“By merely looking at the list of persons invited to the seminar, it is quite clear that is an event whose aim and purpose is Israel hatred under guise of a pseudo academia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. “It is particularly distressing that such an event takes place in Germany.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post on Friday.“It is scandalous that any Christian church in Germany would utilize its moral authority to organize an event that legitimizes those who want to destroy the six million plus Jews in Israel.”
He added, “In any case, they have not read the morning paper. Hezbollah, which controls more than 200,000 missiles, threatened to unleash these against Israel.”
The Protestant Academy in the town of Bad Boll invited the Left Party MP Christine Buchholz to speak. Buchholz has defended the ‘legitimate resistance” of Hezbollah against the Jewish state. The US, Israel, the Arab League and Canada proscribed Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist organization.
Buchholz said “The demonization of Hezbollah is the part of the ideological conduct of war. The Left should not participate in it.”
Buchholz was asked to speak about “human rights discourse in Israel and Palestine.”
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The former Left Party MP Annette Groth is slated to speak. Groth, an activist in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel, was aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2010. The Turkish vessel, which was filled with scores of Islamists, sought to break Israel’s UN-declared legal naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In 2014, the Wiesenthal Center included Groth’s involvement in a violent antisemitic event in the Bundestag in its list of the 10 worst outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism.
An obscure anti-Zionist publisher, Abraham Melzer, is also listed on the program. A Munich court ruled in favor of the Bavarian capital’s Jewish community president Charlotte Knobloch in February, saying she can term the anti-Zionist Jew Melzer’s activity as antisemitic because he encouraged violence toward the Jewish people.
Melzer suffered a humiliating judicial defeat when the Munich court ruled that Charlotte Knobloch – a Holocaust survivor and head of the Jewish community in Munich – is permitted to say that Melzer is “notorious for his antisemitic remarks.”
The Munich court wrote in a statement that Melzer’s talk at the Hamas-affiliated “Palestinians in Europe Conference” in Berlin in 2015 “justified the call to kill, or damage, Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist religious view, and expressed an extreme hostile conviction toward Jews and the Jewish people.”
As a result of the Protestant Academy stacking the conference with pro-BDS supporters, Dr. Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against antisemitism, told Die Welt newspaper that the academy should cancel the anti-Israel conference because the event will provide a forum to supporters of the antisemitic BDS movement
Klein told the Post last week “BDS is decidedly antisemitic in its actions and goals.”
In 2010, the Protestant Academy sought to bring a Hamas speaker from the Gaza Strip to its anti-Israel conference. A year later the Protestant Academy held a BDS conference to discuss “Economic measures against the occupying power Israel.” Manfred Budzinski, from the hardcore pro-BDS Catholic NGO Pax Christi, played a key role in the organization of the anti-Israel events in 2010 and 2011. Budzinski is moderating a panel at this weekend’s event.
Oliver Hoesch, a spokesman for the Protestant Church in Württemberg, told the Post that the state’s Bishop Frank Otfried said “The situation in Israel and in the Palestinian territories requires continued work on a good solution... the Evangelical church in Württemberg rejects the request and approach of the BDS movement.”
Hoesch said the church requested the Academy to postpone the event to obtain a wider selection of participants.
Reinhard Becker, a spokesman for the Protestant Academy defended the conference because there is “increasingly less freedom in Germany for civil society actors in questions of the Middle East.”
Becker said lectures and conferences have been canceled because of critical voices against human rights violations were expected. He added that a list of person, some of whom are present here in Bad Boll to speak, are accused of antisemitism.”
Becker listed some of the pro-BDS speakers, who are of “Jewish belief,” that work for human rights.
Becker said the that Academy’s director, Jörg Hübner, rejects BDS but it is the work of the academy to support dialogue.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper said “the Wiesenthal Center rejects any lectures from any cleric in Germany about the Jewish state in Israel as it struggles against grenades and explosives tied to balloons in Gaza and floated over to Jewish communities.”
When asked by the Post if the Protestant Church in Württemberg, the German Protestant Church, and Hübner consider Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations, they declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Protestant Church in Germany said the organization does not support BDS. The spokesman referred the Post to the regional church authority’s statement in Württemberg.
Deidre Berger, the head of the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, wrote in a Tuesday letter to Bishop Otfried that if “the conference takes place in its current form in Bad Boll, it will cast a shadow over the entire state’s church and your understanding of relations to the Israel and the Jewish world.”
The AJC Berlin office named the event two days later a “Platform of hate” on its Twitter feed.
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