'Anti-Jewish' Museum in Berlin under fire for supporting BDS
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
A pro-BDS Tweet from Berlin’s publicly-funded Jewish Museum lit up Twitter over the weekend with criticism directed at the controversial institution.The brouhaha was sparked by the museum responding to a May Bundestag resolution condemning BDS.The museum tweeted to its 7,510 followers on Thursday: “must read. The [anti-BDS resolution recently passed by Bundestag] decision of the parliamentarians does not continue to help in the fight against antisemitism: @tazgezwitscher on the accusation of 240 Jewish and Israeli academics to the Bundestag.”The museum’s tweet linked to an article sympathetic to the BDS movement that appeared in the left-wing paper taz: a paper that has been engulfed in antisemitism scandals over the years.Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff weighed in on Twitter on Saturday: “Shameful - @jmberlin [Jewish Museum Berlin] tells its followers they must read an article endorsing BDS. The Jewish Museum is supposed to be a cultural body but is highly political when supporting the boycotting of Israel and in effect criticizing the Bundestag for condemning antisemitism!”The German Jewish organization Values Initiative wrote back on Twitter: “Hello politicians, we have a problem: how is it that the Anti-Jewish Museum Berlin repeatedly represents positions that the majority of the Jews living here find harmful? BDS friends are praised, Iranian government is courted...”A spokeswoman for the museum, Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Sunday:“With the reference to the article in the taz, the Jewish Museum Berlin has in no way opposed the resolution of the Bundestag, but pointed to a discussion by 240 academics.” When asked by the Post if the museum supports BDS, she wrote: “We can answer your second question with a clear no.” When asked who authored the ostensible pro-BDS Tweet and if the Tweet will be deleted, Schmidt-Narischkin did not immediately respond.The museum’s seemingly pro-Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment tweet comes after a May anti-BDS resolution by the German parliament that prohibits federally-funded institutions from promoting BDS. The German Bundestag designated BDS as antisemitic in the resolution.A Post query to Monika Grütters, the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media who oversees the museum and its finances, was not immediately returned on Saturday. The German Jewish writer Michael Wuliger wrote on Twitter: “Should not the Jewish Museum Berlin be renamed BDS-Berlin for the sake of honesty?”The Jewish Museum has a controversial history of sponsoring events that promote BDS against Israel.In 2012, the Post reported that the Jewish Museum hosted a podium discussion with US academic Judith Butler, who renewed her calls to boycott Israel. At least 700 people attended the event and showed support for Butler’s call to sanction Israel.Butler triggered intense criticism in Germany, Israel and the US because of her 2006 comment at a “Teach-in Against War” event that “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”The US and the EU designate Hamas a terrorist entity while the US, Canada, Israel, the Arab League, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The EU merely proscribed Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization. Hezbollah and Hamas are considered organizations that advocate lethal antisemitism.Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, first coined the phrase the “anti-Jewish Museum” in 2012 in connection with the museum hosting Butler and promoting BDS.In March, Prof. Peter Schäfer, the non-Jewish director of the Jewish Museum, hosted a diplomat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, sparking widespread criticism for mainstreaming the Iranian regime’s genocidal antisemitism.“With the invitation, the Jewish Museum gives the Iranian Embassy the opportunity to make its antisemitic anti-Zionism part of the public debate,” said Stop The Bomb spokeswoman Ulrike Becker at the time.