A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File].
(photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)
GALERIA Kaufhof, a large, popular department store chain in Germany, flatly rejected on Tuesday allegations that its Munich store removed Israeli products from its shelves because of the new EU settlement guidelines mandating origin labels.
“At no point in time did GALERIA Kaufhof single out Israeli products for special treatment. All of the statements are false,” said Gerd Koslowski, head of corporate communications for the store in an email on Tuesday.
A Bnei Akiva representative in Munich had told Channel 10 on Monday, “They [GALERIA Kaufhof] decided to take all the wines made in Israel and return to them to the factory store.”
Kolowski said “GALERIA Kaufhof obtains goods from Israel, the West Bank and the Golan Heights – for example, products from SodaStream, Ahava, wine and food merchandise, and has not stopped purchases. We obtain these products from large distributors in the European Union, which are responsible for the labeling of products.”
He added, “The GALERIA Kaufhof store does not take religious or political considerations into account in the procurement of the products on its shelves.”
The GALERIA Kaufhof denial follows a series of German efforts to force stores to label Israeli products and remove Israeli goods.
The Berlin department store KaDeWe removed eight Israeli wines from its shelves in November because they were not labeled in accordance with the EU settlement guidelines. After a storm of intense criticism, KaDeWe restored the products and issued an apology.
German activists advocating boycotting products from the Jewish State fanned out across German cites over the weekend. In the northern German town of Bremen, anti-Israel activists visited stores to ensure that they marked their products as originating from Israeli “settlements.”
The Bremen chapter of the Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) movement stated in a press release: “We went on an ‘inspection tour’ on November 28 to examine which businesses are selling ‘products from Israel’ and to call upon them to comply with the EU labeling obligation.”
On Saturday, BDS activists protested in front of the Berlin GALERIA Kaufhof, calling for a boycott of SodaStream products. Protesters in Bonn appeared at the GALERIA Kaufhof wearing white laboratory coats, and a BDS demonstration took place in Hamburg in front of an EDEKA supermarket.
Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who writes extensively on modern Jew-hatred, entitled his article about the BDS activities in Germany: “The Anti-Semitic Vanguard of the EU.” He noted that the EU’s decision to label Israeli goods from disputed territories strengthens resentment by giving it a legal basis, creating significant damage.
He wrote that the symbolism of the BDS activists “makes clear the ideological foundation and motivation, which is anti-Semitism, even if they try to deny it.” For example, he noted that their “uniform of white protective clothing hints at danger of contamination from a contagious disease.”
Claus Walischewski, an activist with the BDS group in Bremen who participated in the targeting of Israeli products, is an honorary spokesman for the Amnesty International. Gerald Steinberg, head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, tweeted “Immoral warfare from ‘respected’ NGO.”
Walischewski told the daily Taz paper that it is not the first time that he heard the accusation that he his anti-Semitic.
The head of the Christian Democratic Union faction in Bremen, Thomas Röwekamp, said ”again have leftist anti-Semites started unopposed their disgusting activities.” He added that he expects that Bremen’s politics will finally distance from these people.
Hungary and Greece oppose EU labels on Israeli products. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration is undecided.