'Antisemitism is not an opinion,' says German bishop

German Catholic Church aids pro-BDS group.

Storm clouds pass over a Roman Catholic church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. August 14, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/JASON COHN)
Storm clouds pass over a Roman Catholic church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. August 14, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS/JASON COHN)
Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr – from the German city of Erfurt, in the state of Thuringia – declared on Saturday at a Catholic conference that “Antisemitism is not an opinion,” but did not comment on the Church’s support for a pro-BDS Catholic organization in the federal republic.
Neymeyr, who is responsible for relations with Judaism within the German bishops’ conference, said  antisemitism is an “attack on the dignity of people,” according to a report on the German-language website of Vatican News.
The German bishop added that antisemitic statements are not views “protected by free speech... rather an attack on the fundamental value of our democracy.” He called for a joint voice to oppose antisemitism in this regard.
Neymeyr’s criticism of antisemitism raises questions about the German Catholic Church’s political and moral will to tackle the alleged antisemitism of Pax Christi, a left-wing Catholic organization that supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The German Bundestag classified BDS as antisemitic in May. Criticism of Pax Christi’s alleged antisemitism has been ignored by the German Catholic Church over the years.
Pax Christi mounts campaigns against the Jewish state and uses the Catholic bank Pax-Bank eG, a German bank headquartered in Cologne, to raise funds for its anti-Israel activities, including calls for Europe to consider severing economic relations with the Jewish state. In June, the Cologne-based Bank for Social Economy closed the account of the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said Jewish Voice is an “antisemitic association” because of its BDS activity.
Pax Christi signed on a call in 2018 to the EU to “Stop funding Israeli arms companies.” The statement demands that the EU “immediately exclude all Israeli military and security companies from the EU framework programs, given that an analysis of past projects has shown that their participation in these programs inherently involves EU support for the development and legitimization of, and profiting from, technology and methodology used by Israel in the commission of war crimes and human rights violations.” A year prior, Pax Christi urged the EU to “consider suspending economic relations” with Israel.
According to NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog organization, “Pax Christi International was an active participant at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, which crystallized the strategy of delegitimizing Israel as ‘an apartheid regime’ through international isolation.”
NGO Monitor documented that in May 2014, Pax Christi Germany began targeting building materials company HeidelbergCement and called on them to “divest from its Israeli affiliate, Hanson Israel.”
“Pax falsely accused Israel of human rights violations and erroneously argued that conducting business with Israel amounts to furthering these alleged violations,” wrote NGO Monitor.
This was repeated in May 2018, when Pax Christi again launched a call for HeidelbergCement to “respect international law” and divest from Hanson Israel, noted NGO Monitor.
Pax Christi urged the German government in 2014 to impose sanctions on Israel by not providing defensive weapons and missile speedboats, saying that such a deal would “further arm Israeli apartheid,” wrote NGO Monitor.
Both Germany’s federal commissioner to combat antisemitism, Felix Klein, and his counterpart in the state of Hesse, Uwe Becker, favor banks not providing accounts to BDS groups. Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan previously told The Jerusalem Post by email: “I call on all German banks to cut their ties with any and all BDS organizations, and join the many German institutions and leaders who have united against the antisemitic boycott campaign.”