(photo credit: BDS)
BERLIN. German and Israeli groups, which monitor anti-Semitism in government funded organizations, slammed an adult education center in the city of Ulm for promoting contemporary anti-Semitism.
Levi Salomon of the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, “Today anti-Semitism expresses itself in the appearance of criticism of Israel. No public money should be used for anti-Israeli propaganda. It is self-evident that the lecture should be canceled.”
Salomon, a leading expert on modern Jew-hatred in Germany, added that the Ulm Adult Education Center should offer balanced Middle East discussions at the center and not biased events against the Jewish state.
The municipal funded adult education center vh Ulm-- located in the German birthplace of Albert Einstein--is slated to host a speaker on Wednesday who supports the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The obscure anti-Israel activist Arn Strohmeyer will deliver a talk on playing down the dangers of anti-Semitism and attack the Jewish state.
The vh Ulm, along with the city’s politicians, have come under fierce criticism from American, Israeli and German pro-Israel organizations over the last week. Critics say the city has failed to combat rising anti-Israel sentiments among workers at the academic center who have allegedly created an anti-Jewish state environment at the vh Ulm.
Sacha Stawski, the head of the Frankfurt-based NGO Honestly Concerned, told the Post, “In Ulm once again, a known anti-Israel agitator is being given a platform in a public education institution, ignoring the well documented arguments, against why this one sided hate fest should not be allowed to take place in this form at the cost of the German taxpayers.”
Dr. Elvira Grözinger, a member of the German branch for --Scholars for Peace in the Middle East-- told the Post, “Whoever uses the word ‘Israel lobby’ means ‘Jewish lobby’ and this is anti-Semitism. No one uses the term of other national ‘lobbies;’ it is only connected to the Jews or Israel being a Jewish state.”
Grözinger ‘s criticism of the term “Israel Lobby” referred to an article in a small regional paper the Südwest Presse by Rudi Kübler that critics say is an anti-Israel public relations piece for the vh Ulm. The article was titled ”Ulm vh stands by lecture despite anti-Semitism accusation from the Israel Lobby." Grözinger added, “The Muslim countries face nothing but terror and carnage, but no German Volkshochschule [academic center] seems to be interested in the topic. It is a German mania to deal with Jews and Israel, and the people preaching BDS are nothing other than anti-Semites as witnessed at their public events where they don’t hesitate to preach ‘Gas the Jews!’ and the like and aiming at destroying the Jewish state by supporting terror and boycotting its industry and science.”
The author of the Südwest Presse article refused to respond to a Jerusalem Post query about anti-Israel bias at the Südwest Presse.
Martin Tränkle, a pastor who heads the German-Israel society in Ulm, sent a protest letter to the paper complaining that the paper has showed a “tendency to report for years in a more or less hostile way toward Israel.”
On Thursday, Irene Hahn stated on behalf of the Ulm/Neu-Ulm chapter of the German-Israeli Society (DIG) that the lecture in the vh Ulm “is part of a series of anti-Israel events leading to the delegitimization of the Jewish state and its right to self-defense.”
"We call for an end to this Israeli criticism disguised as a latent anti-Semitic position,” the German-Israeli friendship society said.
Marlies Gildehaus, a spokeswoman for the new mayor Gunter Czisch, wrote the Post that he did not wish to comment on the anti-Israel event.
Michael Joukov, a Green Party city councilman, wrote the Post that the vh Ulm “program is fully independent.” He said that he considers it “unfounded that visitors to the questionable event will leave with the opinion of the speaker Mr. Strohmeyer.”
The city of Ulm provides 20% of the vh Ulm’s budget. In response to Post press queries, the head of the vh Ulm, Dagmar Engels, wrote in an email that “as always, I will not answer and not confirm!.”
Lothar Heusohn, who has overseen the hardcore anti-Israel events at the vh Ulm , signed an extremist petition against a joint Israel-German government consultation meeting in 2010. He is expected to retire. Engels declined to answer if she would resign.
In a commentary on Friday in the Augsburger Allgemeine, the journalist Oliver Helmstädter, criticized the vh Ulm saying the “one-sided presentations of the problems is not in the meaning of the siblings Scholl. Also the latent threats toward Israel should be considered as part of the program at the vh Ulm.” The siblings Scholl were resistance fighters against the Nazis. The vh Ulm reportedly rejected an Israeli speaker. There have been no presentations at the vh Ulm showing the terrorism threats faced by Israel from Palestinians, Hezbollah, ISIS and Iran’s regime.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem based NGO Monitor, told the Post that “no public institution under any circumstances should fund or host attacks against Israel. Public institutions should hold themselves to a higher standard. Any form of BDS or use of BDS terms is a violation of public institutions.”