German peace and religious group boots pro-BDS ex-mayor

The former mayor of the German university city of Jena, Albrecht Schröter, has long been a supporter of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign targeting the Jewish state.

July 24, 2019 16:48
3 minute read.
German peace and religious group boots pro-BDS ex-mayor

Dr. Albrecht Schröter. (photo credit: ROBERT CONRAD/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The NGO called “Foundation Peace Dialogue of the World Religions and Civil Society” discharged an allegedly antisemitic former German mayor from participating next month in a conference on religions for peace because of his aggressive hostility toward Israel.

Albrecht Schröter, the former mayor of the German university city of Jena, has long been a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. Germany’s Bundestag classified BDS as antisemitic in May.

In 2015, Schröter – who served as managing director for the NGO – accused Israel of partial responsibility for the Syrian refugee crisis, and called on Germany’s foreign minister to “show less restraint” toward the Jewish state.

“As managing director of the foundation, Dr. Schröter was to be responsible for the organizational tasks for the preparation and implementation of the world conference,” Ulrich Schneider, executive director of Foundation Peace Dialogue of the World Religions and Civil Society, wrote the The Jerusalem Post by email on Tuesday. “Shortly after starting work, it became clear that between Dr. Schröter and the foundation board, there were differences on different questions. For this reason – not least against the background of the ambitious time course leading up to the conference – the employment relationship with Dr. Schröter was ended.”

The NGO’s conference, called “Religions for Peace: 10th World Assembly,” is provided with substantial funding by the German Federal Foreign Office and the State of Bavaria. The conference, which describes itself as “the world’s most representative, multi-religious gathering of religious communities,” is slated to take place in the Bavarian town of Lindau.

In response to his termination, Schröter wrote an angry, rambling statement – titled “How can the influence of the Israel lobby be stopped?” – that was published on two antisemitic German websites on Monday, and later scrubbed from the websites.

In a copy of the deleted statement obtained by the Post, Schröter claims that the NGO confronted him with a blog that outlined his alleged antisemitic activities.

The blog, polemically titled “The Mayor of Jena and his peace-moving antisemitism,” appeared on the website Bell Tower and was authored by Arne Ammerschuber.

“This blog from January 2018 (!) Is full of slander, out of context quotes and allegations,” Schröter wrote. “It was created in the run-up to my (unfortunately unsuccessful) reelection and has since always been at the top of Google under “Albrecht Schröter, Israel.” Somebody must be financing that. It is palpable that massive influence has been exerted on the foundation board by the Israel lobby.”

The former Social Democratic mayor did not provide any evidence for his allegation that a so-called “Israel lobby” was at work. Schröter did cite in his statement which specific slander was contained in the blog. This included Schröter’s support for BDS, and that a local branch of the neo-Nazi party (NPD) expressed solidarity with him for his campaign calling for a boycott of Israeli products.

A spokesman for the city of Jena, Roswitha Putz, wrote the Post:
“Dr. Albrecht Schröter has not been mayor of Jena for a year. He was not reelected in May 2018. I have no current contact information for him.”

Post efforts to reach Schröter via a website where he published his statement were not successful.

The ex-mayor said he took legal action against his termination and reached a court settlement. “The defendant does not uphold the allegations made in connection with the contesting of the termination,” according to Schröter. The NGO’s decision to dismiss Schröter could be related to the anti-BDS Bundestag resolution that encourages public entities (for example, the German Foreign Ministry and the Bavarian government) not to aid supporters of the BDS campaign.

In 2015, Reinhard Schramm, chairman of the Jewish community in the State of Thuringia, where Jena is located, told the Post that Schröter “fosters antisemitism.”

Josephine Petzold, from Jusos Jena, an organization for young members of the Social Democratic Party in the eastern German city, said, “Schröter unwittingly contributes to making antisemitism respectable in society.”

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