Mayor of Munich bars use of city rooms for anti-Israel BDS events

Mayor asks city’s cultural representative to conduct review of local government’s sponsorship of anti-Israel events.

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November 11, 2015 15:48
3 minute read.
Demonstrators take part in a pro-Israel rally in Munich

Demonstrators take part in a pro-Israel rally in Munich. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he will ban from city buildings events that seek to delegitimize Israel.

The mayor allowed a BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] lecture against Israel to take place on Saturday in a city cultural center.

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“I am of the view that the city of Munich in the future will no longer provide cost-free rooms for such events.

I can’t as mayor accept city support for events like that which took place on Saturday, in which Israel and its citizens are exposed to sweeping and inappropriate allegations,” wrote Reiter by email.

He added that the anti-Israel BDS event is unacceptable to him because it “evokes the worst memories for our Jewish citizens,” apparently alluding to the Nazi boycott movement of Jewish businesses and the anti-Jewish incitement that led to the destruction of German Jewry.

The Nazi movement originated in Munich, the capital of the southern German state of Bavaria.

On Tuesday, Reiter told Charlotte Knobloch, the head of Munich’s 9,500-member Jewish community, that there will be no future support for BDS events in municipal venues.

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Asked by the Post if he plans to cancel the Palestine Day events in the Gasteig, the Munich cultural center where the BDS talk occurred, the mayor’s office did not immediately respond. Jenny Becker, a spokeswoman for the city’s cultural department, wrote the Post that the city will not cancel Palestine Day events.

Becker told the Post last week: “In our view there is a difference between Israel criticism and anti-Semitism.”

Critics accuse the cultural department of being a hotbed stoking hatred of the Jewish State.

Reiter ostensibly sought to distance himself from the cultural department’s decision to hold an event promoting a boycott of Israel. He said he was not involved in the decision. Asked by telephone if Munich’s cultural department is playing down hatred of Jews and Israel, Becker said “of course not.” She did not immediately answer questions about whether hatred of the Jewish state is a form of contemporary of anti-Semitism.

Anton Biebl, the city’s director of culture, refused multiple Post requests for an interview.

Last week the Post published the first expose on the Munich government’s taxpayer-funded support for German advocates of BDS. The BDS lecture held covered the development and effect of the anti-Israel economic movement.

After Knobloch and Israel’s government requested that Reiter intervene to pull the plug on the BDS lecture, he refused, stating, according to his spokesman Stefan Hauf, the mayor “does not have a basis to cancel the event.

According to the cultural representative, the event is merely a lecture, and a call to boycott is not planned.”

Knobloch told the Post last week: “The BDS campaign disguises the socially unacceptable ’Don’t buy from Jews!’ as a modernized form of Nazi jargon by demanding ‘Don’t buy from the Jewish State.”’ The BDS lecture prompted a protest at the Gasteig on Saturday. An estimated 50 anti-BDS supporters appeared at the event, where 50 attendees were present.

The head of Israel’s consulate in Munich, Dan Shaham, told the Post, “We are sorry that this anti-Semitic BDS group has been allowed to use a municipal room to call for a boycott against Israel, which is by law not allowed in Germany.”

On Tuesday in Munich Israel opened its new consulate, situated near the Braunes Haus, the former national headquarters of the Nazi party and the “Führer’s building,” where former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler signed the Munich treaty in 1938.

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