BDS activists in Berlin..
(photo credit: MANFRED DEUTSCHER)
BERLIN – The teachers’ union in Oldenburg, Germany, has formally apologized for its publication of a pro-boycott Israel article in its September magazine.
“With the publication of this article from the field of the so-called BDS campaign, we made a big mistake,“ Heinz Bührmann, chairman of the of Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) in Oldenburg, wrote on Monday. The local union’s parent-teacher organization termed BDS “anti-Semitic” on its Twitter feed.
“The GEW rejects a boycott of Israel and anti-Semitic positions,“ wrote Bührmann.
After The Jerusalem Post first reported on Saturday that the GEW’s paper advocated BDS, the union reversed its position and removed a statement from its website that suggested a defense of the publication of the article.
The monthly paper was sent to the GEW’s 1,200 members in the area of Oldenburg in the state of Lower Saxony.
“Not one member of the Oldenburg GEW district executive board is... racist or anti-Semitic,“ said Bührmann, claiming the BDS “campaign was, for us, completely not known as problematic. Our lack of knowledge is to blame.“ The union leader said the executive board did not author the article, but was responsible for its publication.
“In a short time, we will publish a special edition of our district organization’s paper PaedOl with counter-statements, reactions and letters to the editor regarding the article,” he said.
The GEW’s pro-BDS article electrified Twitter over the weekend.
Volker Beck, a leading German Green Party MP and head of the German-Israel parliamentary group, wrote that he hopes the GEW national union “condemns BDS as an anti-Semitic project...,” in response to which, the Twitter feed for the national GEW organization wrote: “Of course, the GEW condemns an anti-Semitic campaign like BDS. We are democratic and anti-racist!” The federal GEW announced in January that its membership had reached nearly 281,000.
The GEW Berlin also condemned BDS on its twitter feed.
The author of the pro-BDS article, Christoph Glanz, a fringe anti-Israel activist, is a GEW member and teacher in Oldenburg.
The publication of the pro- BDS article is believed to the first instance of a workers’ organization article urging a complete boycott of Israel and Jews since the Holocaust. In recent years, the neo-Nazi parties NPD and Der Dritte Weg (The Third Way) have called for a total boycott of Israel.
Lisa Scheremet, a Jewish teacher in Lower Saxony, said she is considering cancelling her GEW membership because of the article.
“I do not want to finance the active anti-Israel propaganda with my membership dues,” she said in a letter to the GEW’s Bührmann.
Israel’s embassy told the Post last week the GEW is an important German institution in Germany so it was “surprised and disappointed” that the Oldenburg chapter chose to republish the pamphlet of a BDS activist in its magazine.
“We rely on the moral values and intellectual capabilities of readers of the magazine to correctly classify the pamphlet, but we still expect the magazine to show better editorial standards,” the embassy said.