German antisemitism commissioner slams Berlin’s pro-BDS 'anti-Jewish Museum'

B'nai B'rith International says museum is "distorting Israel's capital Jerusalem."

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June 10, 2019 19:12
3 minute read.
THE JEWISH MUSEUM BERLIN, once known as the City of Berlin Museum.

THE JEWISH MUSEUM BERLIN, once known as the City of Berlin Museum. (photo credit: BECKY FRANK)

 
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Uwe Becker, commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism, has blasted Berlin’s Jewish Museum for stoking an antisemitic boycott of the Jewish state.

In a written statement to The Jerusalem Post, Becker said on Sunday that “The Jewish Museum in Berlin obviously sees as its task to take a stand against Jewish life in our country and especially against Israel. The recent support for BDS is a disgrace! After a total single-sided exhibition about Jerusalem now another scandal. This is not a Jewish but an anti-Jewish Museum.”

The Post obtained a letter from Charles O. Kaufman, president of B’nai B’rith International, to Peter Schäfer, the controversial director of the museum in Berlin.

“It appears that the German propaganda machine of the 1930s lives,” Kaufman wrote on Sunday in the letter. “I became aware of your anti-Israel mission with your recent ‘Welcome to Jerusalem’ exhibit, an utter distortion of the capital of the Jewish State. Now with its pro-BDS message to Twitter followers, the Jewish Berlin Museum becomes the leading contender to be renamed the Insult to Injury Museum. This latest action from the ‘Jewish Berlin Museum’ is ridiculous if not shameful. BDS is an antisemitic movement that demonizes Israel, Jews and seeks to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Economic data shows that the BDS movement actually harms, not helps, the plight of the Palestinian people. It’s sad that this museum so miserably misses the mark time and again in telling the story of the Jewish people. Its work not only serves as an insult to Jews; it’s an insult to the intelligence of the German people.”

The intense criticism directed at Schäfer’s alleged anti-Israel and anti-Jewish direction of the museum comes in response to a pro-BDS Tweet from the publicly-funded Jewish Museum on Thursday. The museum appeared to endorse an article in favor of reversing an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) resolution passed by the German parliament last month.

The museum tweeted to its 7,510 followers: “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.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, tweeted on Sunday in response to a Post story about the BDS activity at the museum: “Demonization campaigns singling out Israel (BDS) are immoral, and propaganda promoted by jmberlin [Berlin Jewish Museum] from tazgezwitscher and 200 ‘intellectuals’ does not change that.”


Steinberg first coined the phrase the “anti-Jewish Museum” in 2012 in connection with the museum hosting the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler. Butler promoted BDS at the museum in 2012, and expressed support for the terrorist entities Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006: “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” said Butler.

BRITISH JOURNALIST Tom Gross told the Post: “I was recently invited by the Berlin Jewish Museum director’s office to tour the museum’s current ‘Jerusalem’ exhibition. I was shocked by the prevalence of the anti-Zionist, often antisemitic, fringe Neturei Karta movement in the Jewish part of the exhibit. The hateful placards of this group (who have supported Holocaust deniers in Iran) were on display without any contrary explanation for museum goers of who they are.”

He added: “When I expressed my dismay to the museum director’s office, even though they had invited me to the museum, they failed to respond. The Jerusalem exhibit presently dominates the museum since the permanent exhibition is closed for over a year while it is completely re-done. I just hope that when it reopens it will give an honest assessment of the Holocaust and antisemitism, and not some distorted version.”

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.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin, a spokeswoman for the museum, did not immediately respond to a Post query regarding the new wave of criticism facing the museum. Schmidt-Narischkin told the Post on Sunday that the museum rejects BDS.

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