German cultural center cancels anti-Israel event ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day

"We regret if in this context the rental of our rooms for this event gave the impression that an anti-Israel event could take place," said Stephan Pleyn.

January 25, 2016 17:18
2 minute read.
Anti-Israel protest in Berlin

A WOMAN holds a sign during an anti-Israel protest in Berlin on August 1.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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BERLIN – The director of the publicly-funded cultural center in the northern Germany city of Bremen on Monday pulled the plug on an anti-Israel event seeking to demonize the Jewish state.

The event, “Antisemitismus – Philosemitism and the Palestinian Conflict” was organized by the German-Palestinian Society and the Middle East Forum Bremen.

“We regret if in this context the rental of our rooms for this event gave the impression that an anti-Israel event could take place,” Stephan Pleyn, the director of the Bürgerhaus Weserterrassen, told The Jerusalem Post by email.

He added that “it was in no way the intention and that does not reflect our position. We have canceled the event on January 26.”

After researching Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activity in Bremen – a hot spot for recent anti-Israel operations – the Post sent media queries to the mayor and cultural center about municipal space for BDS and anti-Israel events.

The anti-Zionist talk was slated to take place one day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday.

André Städler, spokesman for Bremen’s Mayor Carsten Sieling, told the Post that he “welcomes” the decision to cancel the event, adding, “Bremen sharply condemns every form of anti-Semitism including attempts to question Israel’s right to exist.”

The deputy representative of the Bremen Jewish community, Grigori Pantijelew, told the Post on Monday that “Arn Strohmeyer, Detlef Griesche and other members of this group have defamed the Jewish community in Bremen for years.”

Strohmeyer, a hardcore anti-Israel activist who was scheduled to deliver the talk in the cultural center, has participated in boycott actions against the Jewish state in Bremen over the years. He wrote a positive review tilted, “Boycott Is an Absolute Necessity,” against Israel on an extremist website.

Pantijelew termed the groups behind the talk and who demonstrate every Saturday to be anti-Semitic. The groups have called for boycotts of Israeli products for years.

He said that “he finds it great that the event was canceled,” and wished to thank Pleyn for the decision.

The head of Munich’s Jewish community Charlotte Knobloch told the Post, “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,”’ Knobloch is a Holocaust survivor and former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

In an email to the Post, Strohmeyer wrote the he is “very outraged” that his talk was canceled. He said the refusal means that “freedom of speech was threatened in a bad manner.”

He said his lecture will still take place at another location.

“I have never questioned Israel’s right to exist and never will.” He added that “the allegation of anti-Semitism from certain Jewish circles serves as an instrument to silence critics of Israel’s policies.”

Raif Hussein, a spokesman for the German-Palestinian Society (DPG), wrote to the Post that the “DPG is prepared for an interview on the topic of BDS, but will not answer in the form of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

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