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Berlin is ‘hypocritical and dishonest’ on anti-Semitism, Jewish newspaper claims

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Berlin is ‘hypocritical and dishonest’ on anti-Semitism, Jewish newspaper claims
Photo: DPA
12:23 CEST+02:00
Germany’s leading Jewish newspaper has fired sharp criticism at the capital city, arguing that Berlin is failing to take a strong enough stance against anti-Semitic activist groups.

The Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung (JAZ) published the strongly-worded article on Wednesday after several artists dropped out of a music festival currently being held in the capital when they found out that it was being backed by the Israeli embassy.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel internationally, put “massive pressure” on artists to withdraw from the Pop-Kultur festival due to a €500 donation from the Israeli embassy, JAZ reports.

Writer Philipp Peyman Engel accused the city’s government of remaining largely silent on the issue, a stance that he argued was symptomatic of a weak approach to anti-Semitism in the capital.

Engel praised the city’s culture minister for describing the boycott as “disgusting”, while bemoaning the fact that the city mayor, Michael Müller, remained silent on the issue.

He contrasted this with the stance that Frankfurt and Munich have taken to the BDS campaign, which encourages an economic blockade against the Jewish state. The mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, has described the BDS campaign as both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. Munich’s city council, meanwhile, no longer allows the BDS campaign to hold meetings on city-owned properties, Engel notes.

But the news hasn’t reached Berlin yet, where the prevailing attitude seems to be “it’s all the same to me”, Engel argues.

“On the topic of anti-Semitism, Berlin is simply hypocritical and dishonest.”

The BDS movement in Berlin caused controversy in June when three of its activists disrupted an event at the Humboldt University where the speakers included a liberal Israeli politician and a Holocaust survivor.

But the accusation that the political class of Berlin have not taken a stance against the BDS is not wholly true.

In May the Berlin Social Democrats (SPD), who are the largest party in the Berlin government, approved a motion describing the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.

BDS deny the charge of anti-Semitism, arguing that they support the Palestinian right to self-determination as set out by the United Nations.

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