Boycott Israel sign.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – The head of Munich’s Jewish community has urged the Bavarian capital to cancel an anti-Israel event calling for the boycott of the Jewish state planned to be held in a tax-payer funded city building.
“The BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] 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,”’ Charlotte Knobloch told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
The event “BDS: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” is slated to take place on Saturday among a series of anti-Israel talks in the Gasteig building as part of Munich’s cultural program.
Knobloch said planned speaker Niels Helow is an activist of the BDS campaign in Germany.
“This event is a continued effort to defame, delegitimize, ostracize Israel under the cloak of allegedly legitimate criticism. It is assumed that a comprehensive boycott against Israel will be announced aimed at hurting economics, science, culture and all areas of life.
“As democrats we must accept other opinions. But I consider it unacceptable that such anti-Israel events – incidentally like the Palestinian conferences, which we have criticized for years – take place in city rooms. The Gasteig should not provide a forum for such propaganda.”
At 9,500, the Jews in Munich make up Germany’s second largest Jewish community. Knobloch oversees Holocaust memorial days for the World Jewish Congress.
The BDS event is slated to coincide with remembrances held for German pogroms against the Jews, which begin on November 9.
Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, and one of the most prominent representatives of German Jewry, said Munich should cancel the event because “in these times we are experiencing anti-Semitism being expressed continuously in a more open and cavalier way, especially disguised as criticism of Israel, and particularly in the Muslim community.”
“A high degree of anti-Semitism can be found in mainstream society.
The passionate obsession to disproportionately criticize Israel and thus Jews –a difference can hardly be seen – is clearly noticeable. Everything should be done to prevent an expansion of this campaign [BDS] in this country,” she said.
“In no way should a state or city institution provide space to this movement. BDS gives the appearance of legitimate criticism and wanting to protect human rights.
In fact, the movement is shaped by ideology, totalitarianism, and works with exaggerated criticism and symbols.
“The movement is steeped in anti-Semitism with the goal of isolating Israel. Israel is [from BDS] defamed, discriminated, and demonized.
Its character as a Jewish state is not accepted. Especially in Germany should one be alert and analyze sensibly which goals stand behind an event, rather than giving this type of propaganda a platform,” Knobloch said.
In response to an email from the Post to the Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter. Stefan Hauf, a spokesman for Reiter, replied by telephone he “could not judge ” whether the social democratic mayor opposes or supports a boycott of Israel. He said the mayor has been informed about the BDS event in the Gasteig.
When asked whether Munich combats anti-Semitism, Hauf replied, “of course.”
Jenny Becker, a representative of the city’s cultural department, wrote the Post by email that the event is a lecture about “the background, development, and effect of the BDS campaign. We cannot see that it deals with a call to boycott.”
Richard Quaas, a Munich city councilman from the Christian Social Union, urged the city’s cultural representative Anton Biebl to cancel the rental agreement with the BDS group.
“A call to boycott Israel and Israeli products… does not correspond to our special obligation and responsibility toward Israel, “ wrote Quaas.
“I don’t understand how a room of the city library in Gasteig can be provided to such a [BDS] group of activists.”