Protesters attend a rally against anti-Semitism in Frankfurt August 31, 2014. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An estimated 200 activists, including politicians from several German parties, protested on Friday near an anti-Israel conference in Frankfurt.
The demonstrators, under the banner of “Never again Jew-hatred! The people of Israel live,” said the conference on “50 Years of Israeli Occupation” targeted Israel with antisemitism, including BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activity. The Frankfurt-based NGO Honestly Concerned – a watchdog group that exposes antisemitism in the German media – was a principal organizer of the demonstration.
Some of Europe’s leading BDS activists attended the conference, including expatriate Israeli historian Ilan Pappé.
Frankfurt Deputy Mayor Uwe Becker said at the protest that BDS is not only anti-Zionist, but antisemitic, and follows the Nazis slogan “Don’t Buy from Jews!” Becker – one of Germany’s most senior pro-Israel politicians – had led an effort that caused the Ka Eins Conference Center to cancel its contract with the German Coordinating Circle Palestine/Israel, or Kopi to host the conference.
Kopi filed sued to cancel the contract termination and prevailed in court.
The speakers list for the conference contains a who’s who anti-Israel activists, including former Left Party Bundestag deputy Norman Paech and Matthias Jochheim, an activist from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who were aboard the Gaza protest ship Mavi Marmara in 2010 that sought to break Israel’s UN-approved blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Volker Beck, a Green Party Bundestag deputy, said at the rally near the Ka Eins center: “The boycott from BDS is clearly directed at Jews. The leadership of the Palestinians must say no to terrorism and violence, and then the two-state solution will have a chance.”
Kopi said in statement the organizers of the rally against the conference “ignore the facts of the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, east Jerusalem and the Golan heights,” by alleging that the BDS campaign is antisemitic.
Two hundred people attended the conference, many of whom wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: Boycott Israeli Apartheid,” the Frankfurter Rundschau paper reported on Saturday.
Josef Schuster, the head of the nearly 99,000-member Central Council of German Jews, told the jaz Jewish weekly that “BDS promotes anti-Israeli antisemitism, which is on the rise at this time in Germany.”
Jutta Ditfurth, an author and environmental activist, said, “If BDS and Hamas win, then the only and small Jewish state in the world ceases to exist.
Then the plans of the German Nazis and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Hajj Amin al-Husseini] would achieve their goal.” She continued, “BDS is not a violence-free project.”
Ditfurth, who seeks to combat BDS within the European Left, said 13 of the speakers and moderators at the Kopi conference are members or supporters of the BDS movement.
Majida al-Masri, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine from Nablus, and George Rashmawi, from the Palestinian Community of Germany organization and a supporter of Hamas’s violent campaign against Israel, were among the speakers at the conference.
Roughly 100-120 BDS activists from a group called Free Palestine Frankfurt mounted a counter-demonstration on Friday, including a man who had spoken at pro-Hamas event in Berlin. Radical Turkish nationalists from the Grey Wolves organization and a pro-Tehran regime activist attended the counter-rally. A sign stating “Zionism is Apartheid” was displayed at the event, and attendees chanted, “Intifada until victory.”