German peace event excludes Jewish politician for his anti-BDS stance

Munich politician says anitsemitism a factor.

A woman wearing a T-shirt which reads, "Boycott Israel", takes part in a demonstration in favour of the occupied Palestinian people of Gaza in Brussels December 27, 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)
A woman wearing a T-shirt which reads, "Boycott Israel", takes part in a demonstration in favour of the occupied Palestinian people of Gaza in Brussels December 27, 2011.
(photo credit: REUTERS/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)
The Munich Peace Conference has rejected Marian Offman, the city council’s only Jewish member, from being a speaker at the event, allegedly because of his opposition to the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement targeting Israel, sparking accusations of antisemitism against the conference organizers.
According to a Monday report in the Munich-based broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), conference organizer Thomas Rödl confirmed that Offman’s stance on Israel is one of the reasons for his exclusion, stating that the Social Democratic politician, who is also a member of Munich’s Jewish community, “dealt aggressively and in a polarizing way with political groups and events that critically assess the policies of the government of Israel.”
Offman told SZ that the fact that the organizers of the event “aggressively disinvite” the only Jewish city council member when it comes to peace issues has something to do with antisemitism, adding that, “For me, Israel is a guarantee of [Jewish] survival, especially today.”
The Peace Conference is slated to take place in February. Munich city council politicians from the Green Party and the Social Democrats, who reject BDS, were not disinvited, raising additional questions about bias against Offman.
In 2017, Munich’s mainstream political parties, including the Christian Democratic Union, the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party passed a law that banned public funds and space for BDS.
The anti-BDS legislation was largely in response to Jerusalem Post exposes on rising antisemitism in the Bavarian capital in 2016.
Rödl, who is also director of the German Peace Society, denied that conference organizers discriminated against Offman because of his Jewishness. “Nothing is further from us than wanting to exclude a certain religious community,” he said.
Rödl added that non-Jewish city council lawmakers who voted against BDS in 2017 are allowed to attend the event because they are from parties closer to the peace movement. The representatives cited in the SZ report are Christian Vorländer from Social Democratic Party, and the Green Party’s Florian Roth. Offman was previously a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and recently switched to the Social Democrats. He voted as a member of the CDU against BDS.
The German Bundestag passed a resolution in May declaring BDS an antisemitic movement.
The conference is slated to feature the controversial Islamic studies professor Katajun Amirpur, a German-Iranian writer who argued in an SZ article that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not say he plans “to wipe Israel off the map.” Critics of the Iranian regime in Germany such as the German-Iranian public intellectual Nasrin Amirsedghi say that Amirpur downplays the Iranian threat toward Israel and the West.


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