We are well accustomed to the conflation of issues when it comes to anti-Semitism, particularly the recent upsurge driven by such movements as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and its acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week. However, in the Central American Republic of Guatemala, they have managed to take conflation to a whole other level.
Thousands of demonstrators in Guatemala used anti-Semitic language in protest against the country’s major power company, Energuate, which they thought was owned by an Israeli group.
“Jews have killed me on the cross. Now Jews from Energuate are killing my people in Guatemala with the light,” read the Spanish-language banners and posters at the protests. “Out with Jewish Energuate from Guatemala. Let’s unite for the nationalization of power electricity.”
IC Power completed the acquisition of Energuate in January for $265 million. Energuate’s two electricity distribution companies provide services for approximately 1.6 million households in Guatemala, representing approximately 60 percent of the country.
About 20,000 people took part in the demonstrations last week, in which placards were waved condemning “the Jewish power company.” This was based on the misconception that IC Power was owned by Israel Corporation – an error, as ICP’s parent company Kenon was spun-off from Israel Corporation in 2015.
The anti-Semitic material also included an image of a crucified Jesus and a New Testament passage about hypocritical “teachers of the law and Pharisees” neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness.
An article on the website of Redes Cristianas, or Christian Networks, defended the use of an anti-Semitic tone in the protests, “This collective action is one of the last resources of peaceful resistance that people dispossessed and subjugated have to safeguard what little life and dignity remains the country.”
There has been social instability in Guatemala for years, and there are wide economic gaps among its population. The UK Foreign Office’s advice on travel to the country states: “Incidents of political violence, strikes and large demonstrations can occur, often with little or no notice. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent.”
AntiSemitismWatch was one of the first to cover the trigger behind the anti-Semitism storm that has come to engulf the UK Labour Party. It began with the resignation of Alex Chalmers, the former co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC).
In his resignation statement Chalmers highlighted his concerns over issues related the group’s endorsement of the systemically anti-Semitic BDS movement and its acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week , alleging there were growing anti-Semitic tendencies within the OULC, “The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting (sic.) and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.”
Considering the complete furor that has landed at his table since over anti-Semitism, you would imagine that Corbyn would have wanted to handle Baroness Royall’s report with complete openness and transparency? How else could he hope to try to restore the trust that has been completely eroded away for Jewish supporters of Labour and the Jewish community in general?
Unfortunately, that is not how this Labour leader thinks. Consequently, Labour is now facing a fresh row over anti-Semitism after the party failed to publish the full report. Details may not now emerge until the wider Chakrabarti Inquiry into party racism is completed in late June.
Indeed, it is now apparent that Baroness Royall wanted to publish her full report but was specifically prevented from doing so by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
Instead, only the executive summary of her report was released. Frustratingly, the summary does not make clear whether the allegations made by Chalmers about the OULC were unfounded or true.
But she recommends that Oxford University Labour Club, and all student Labour clubs, should “examine the culture of their club and take action to ensure that all those who wish to participate in meetings feel that there is a safe space in order to discuss and debate without discrimination”.
The peer made 11 formal recommendations for “immediate and sustained action”, while advising the Chakrabarti Inquiry of a further seven recommendations.
Chief among the 11 is that party expulsion for anti-Semitism should not automatically be for life – because “people may change their views” and those who have demonstrated they have reformed should be allowed to seek readmission.
The peer also urged the party to consider adopting “a definition of anti-Semitic discourse”, rule changes to allow “swifter action” to deal with allegations and a new independent disciplinary panel on Jew-hate.
A further recommendation is a new power that ensures no ‘statute of limitations’ to enable the party to expel anyone for anti-Semitic conduct committed at any time.
Training for officers of all Labour clubs in dealing with anti-Semitism, led by the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Students, is also recommended by Baroness Royall.
A “clear line of reporting” of incidents is suggested, as well as the ability for individual students to report allegations directly to the party’s national Executive Director of Governance.
Moreover, the party’s national complaints unit must also be “properly resourced so that it may deal effectively with complaints of anti-Semitism”, Baroness Royall said.
Labour should also consider adopting the ‘Macpherson Principle’ – drafted by the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s racist murder – that an ‘anti-Semitic incident’ is any incident ‘perceived’ to be so by ‘the victim or any other person’.
As if to reinforce the lack of openness and transparency, there was an acute difference in the inquiry slant focused upon by the Labour leadership and the subsequent comments by the Baroness herself.
The party chose to concentrate on the headline that the inquiry found no evidence of ‘institutional anti-Semitism’ within the OULC.
In a hint that her own conclusions had been misrepresented by the party, Baroness Royal told the Jewish Labour Movement that she shared its ‘disappointment and frustration’ that her findings of incidents of anti-Semitism were not getting enough attention.
“I am clear that in the OULC there is a cultural problem which means that Jewish students do not always feel welcome. And we have to take action to change this situation.
“Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark “as a Jew …” they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying “as a woman …” or “as an Afro-Caribbean”. This should not be tolerated. ”
Baroness Royall also made clear in a blog that “there is too often a culture of intolerance where Jews are concerned and there are clear incidents of anti-Semitism”.
Indeed, the peer stressed that any documented evidence of misconduct within the Oxford student body would be passed to party General Secretary Iain McNicol and investigated “in line with normal procedures” for disciplinary action.
Jeremy Newmark, a former spokesman for the Chief Rabbi and chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, claimed the peer had been frustrated by the NEC’s decision.
Newmark said, “There is a problem of denial of anti-Semitism in the party. Failure to publish Royall’s full findings risks contributing to that.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, similarly added:
“We would like to express our appreciation to Baroness Royall for her efforts. However, we regard them as incomplete and are disappointed with the NEC’s decision to suppress the release of the full inquiry.
“Organisations that do not publish full reports, particularly when they may be critical, tend to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, as was the case when the media were rightly critical when FIFA tried to publish a very sanitised version of the report into the World Cup bidding procedure.”
AntiSemitismWatch has extensively covered Labour’s ever-deepening anti-Semitism crisis as well as, crucially, offering an explanation as to the main driver behind it, simply and plainly rooted in and derived from hatred of all matters Israel.
The club’s co-chairman, Alex Chalmers, resigned, saying that a “large proportion of Oxford University Labour Club and the student Left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.”
He condemned Israeli Apartheid Week as “a movement with a history of targeting and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campuses”.
It can now also be revealed that a previous Israeli Apartheid Week event, in Leicester last year, was attended by Mohammed Dawood, a serving Labour councillor in the east Midlands city.
Cllr Dawood, a former assistant mayor of Leicester with responsibility for housing and social care, recently tweeted a film showing the burning of the “Zionist entity flag”, the Israeli flag.
On social media, Cllr Dawood has described Israelis as “colonisers”, said that artists who go to Israel are “like [those] performing in Sun City [the resort in the South African bantustan] under Apartheid” and retweeted a statement that Israeli troops are “Zionist terrorists”.
A spokesman for the organisation Jewish Human Rights Watch called on Labour to expel Cllr Dawood.
Additionally, Labour MP Louise Ellman, who is herself Jewish, has said that while Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn had spoken out about the issue, not enough was being done to actually tackle the problem.
She said that party members were being allowed to “get away” with posting anti-Semitic comments online.
“I am very concerned about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Most members of the Labour Party are not anti-Semitic but some are,” she told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, insisted they were committed to dealing with the issue.
“You can be a critic of the Israeli state and its role, but you mustn’t allow that to in any way be used by anti-Semites. We’ve got to root that out and we will do,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.
That statement is perhaps considered by some as a little ironic considering The Daily Mail recently published details of articles from The Labour Herald newspaper, required reading for the Left in the 80s. This included a 1985 piece, published during John McDonnell’s co-editorship spell at the newspaper, which compared the Israeli government to the Nazis by claiming it confined Palestinians to ‘concentration camps’.
A few weeks later, the paper went on to endorse terrorist attacks against the country’s authorities, to counter what it called ‘the racism at the heart of the Israeli state’.
When the Board of Deputies of British Jews met the Labour leader in February, although he told the delegation he opposed anti-Semitism “from any part of the political spectrum”, when highlighted that his past engagements with dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semites, including representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah needed to be acknowledged and a line drawn under them he only committed himself to “reflect further” on such connections. This does not go nearly far enough especially since we are talking about Holocaust deniers and terrorists. Moreover, since that February meeting Corbyn has not issued any formal response to his period of reflection!
AntiSemitismWatch says that it is clear there is no end in sight to this Labour anti-Semitism crisis and there will not be until they grapple with their inconvenient truth. As the ‘natural home’ of modern anti-Israeli movements, like BDS and its acolytes including Israeli Apartheid Week; movements now widely regarded as systemically anti-Semitic, the political left is in danger of becoming similarly systemically anti-Semitic, and so is the Labour Party.
The government has ceased funding a British charity which sponsored events accused of promoting hatred and violence against Jews.
The Department for International Development (Dfid) said that it no longer supported War on Want, which helped pay for “Israeli Apartheid Week” in February this year.
The statement comes as The Daily Telegraph obtained undercover recordings of events where anti-Semitism, demands for the destruction of Israel or naked support for terror were expressed by academics and others at meetings in some of Britain’s most prestigious universities.
One speaker, Max Blumenthal, the son of a close adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, praised a massacre by Hamas as sending an “incredible message” and said that taking up arms should be “normal” for Palestinians. He compared Israel to the terrorist group Isil, describing it as “the Jewish State of Israel and the Levant, Jsil”.
At another rally – sponsored by War on Want – a speaker said that British government policy was created by “Zionist and neo-con lobbies”.
A second speaker at the same event spoke of a “rumour” that Israelis were harvesting dead Palestinians’ organs.
The meeting, at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), was the London launch of Israeli Apartheid Week, held across UK university campuses to “raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project” and demand boycotts of Israel. They were secretly recorded and passed to the Telegraph.
War on Want, whose logo appears on publicity materials for Israeli Apartheid Week and the meeting, has received £260,000 in funding from Dfid over the last two years.
The subsidy is doubly embarrassing because the Government has recently banned local authorities and other public bodies from implementing boycotts of Israel.
A Dfid spokesman said last night that it has ceased funding of War on Want, apart from a small project with a distinct branch of the charity in Northern Ireland.
Dfid sources said the UK “deplored incitement on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
War on Want spent more than £1,000 to bring Sahar Francis, a Palestinian lawyer, to the UK for the London event.
Ms Francis, the head of the Addameer prisoners’ rights group, spoke of a “rumour” that Israelis were stealing organs from Palestinian victims of the violence.
“The eyes were looking in a very strange way and this is why the families suspected [Israel] are stealing their [organs],” she said.
“But we cannot confirm, because [in] most cases it was not ending up with [an] autopsy.”
War on Want also paid for the accommodation of another speaker, Steven Salaita, an academic who used the event to attack Israel’s “tenuous colonial existence” and defend violence, saying: “If we are going to reduce a project of ethnic cleansing, illegal settlement and military occupation to the minuscule chance that a soldier or a settler will be harmed by an act of resistance by the natives, then we forfeit all right to be taken seriously.”
Arguably the most important contemporary question in respect to the increase in anti-Semitism is what lies behind it? Many theories abound but AntiSemitismWatch is convinced, through its worldwide network and monitoring, that all too often instances of anti-Semitism are derived from the atmosphere created when those with political or social agendas seek to impose their will on others.
This is most powerfully experienced across university campuses when those pushing their Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) viewpoint create a poisonous environment for anyone not persuaded or supportive of their cause.
This is a point entirely lost by BDS supporters, conveniently or deliberately ignoring the reality. AntiSemitismWatch believes there are distinct parallels between this description and what is currently being experienced in Toms River.
Readers may already be familiar with the news that Toms River has implemented a law aimed at putting an end to what many of its residents and leaders labeled overly aggressive tactics by realtors. Some observers suggest the measure is part of a campaign to block an increasing migration by members of the neighboring Orthodox community of Lakewood. Against this backdrop, tensions have simmered over comments made by Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher.
In an interview with Bloomberg News Service regarding the recent influx and his town’s reaction to it, Kelaher was quoted as saying, “It’s like an invasion. It’s the old throwback to the 1960s, when blockbusting happened in Philadelphia and Chicago with the African-American community — ‘I want to buy your house. You’ll be sorry if you don’t [sell it to me].”
Representatives of the Chabad Jewish Center have also filed a suit in federal court against Toms River and its Zoning Board of Adjustment alleging its refusal to allow small weekly prayer services in Rabbi Moshe Gourarie’s home is a civil rights violation spurred by a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” in the community.
In the latest incident that appears to have resulted from this cancerous environment, “Go back to Lakewood, Jew,” has been found carved into a picnic table in the local Riverwood Park.
The table was removed by the local authorities after they learned of the graffiti, according to Community Affairs Officer Ralph Stocco.
A police detective was assigned and the incident is being treated as a hate crime, according to Stocco. They are working to determine if this is related to an incident at the same park earlier this month where “Burn the Jews” was carved into playground equipment.
A number of social media statements regarding Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jews have also been noted since the issue originally flared, describing them as “cockroaches,” “trash,” a “cult,” “he-brews and she-brews,” a “Jewish conspiracy,” “disgusting phonies,” a “joo school,” “damn jews,” “dirty,” and a “disease.”
AntiSemitismWatch believes on the basis of this analogy it is essential that individuals, groups, organisations, colleges and universities, governments and agencies begin taking the action necessary to prevent the further spread of anti-Semitism. It is clear one of the most effective tactics is standing against and preventing the poisonous and cancerous environments created by BDS and its associated acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week.
It is also a powerful argument to be put to those communities and societies who, for whatever reason, like Toms River, seek to maintain an artificial status quo.
Followers of AntiSemitismWatch will be familiar with reading about the consequences of those activists on campus who are driving anti-Semitism through their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its associated acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week. In a new low, the student union at University College London pushed through a motion last week endorsing BDS, with little support from the student body.
Ariel Tamman, co-president of the Friends of Israel Society at UCL, claimed he had only become aware of the motion a few hours before it was debated, saying it had only been mentioned on the union’s website and no effort been made to flag it more prominently.
Tamman explained that anti-Israel activity had become more “invasive” at the campus and claimed the latest move would leave supporters of Israel on campus not only feeling “intimidated”, but that, “It may lead to less Jewish students coming to UCL,” he told the Jewish News.
A proposal to consider the motion in a larger student forum was rejected, as was an amendment to strike out a boycott from the motion. Tamman said it appeared many officers “had already made up their minds”. He also confirmed he will be writing to the university authorities over both the motion’s impact and the way the process was conducted.
The motion, which passed by 14 votes to four, called for UCL’s students’ union, UCLU, to ‘work with students to publish a report on academic, corporate and economic links between the university and companies or institutions that participate in or are complicit in Israeli violations of international law’. What’s more, UCLU will stop stocking or advertising Israeli products.
When a former president of the UCL Jewish Society, Elliot Miller, said the Palestine Society of UCL, “Intimidates Jews all day then celebrates BDS”, one member replied: “If our existence intimidates Zionists on campus then that’s their problem.”
One Jewish UCL student, spoken to by spiked-online.com, said he was angered by the union’s actions. ‘I don’t care what the agenda is’, Issac said. ‘You can’t force-feed 30,000 [students] a political stance that is so contested – it’s undemocratic and unfair.’
It seems that, due to its underhand methods, UCLU has shot itself in the foot since a petition has now been launched in the wake of the vote, calling for the motion to be debated by the wider student body at a general assembly. ‘We need this to happen because [the union] needs to let people have their say’, Isaac says. ‘The fact that the UCLU Debating Society opposed the motion the night before just shows that the student body is not in parallel with what the union believes. The union has been very crafty about it.’
The day before the vote, members of the UCLU Friends of Palestine Society dressed as IDF soldiers and set up mock checkpoints on campus, dubbing it the ‘Palestinian Experience’.
Student Liora Cadranel wrote on Facebook: “Today on campus students were invited to a virtual ‘Palestinian experience’. Needless to say, that was not the stabbings of innocent civilians. BDS is not about peace but is a hate-filled strategy.”
University College London, which is independent from UCLU, confirmed, “UCL is opposed to any policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.”
AntiSemitismWatch suggests that it is too cowardly for the University to hide behind a statement that is not backed up by action. UCLU has, whether the University likes it or not, tarnished its name. It should start by suspending its activities on campus!
In recent weeks there has been plenty of coverage of the difficulties the Labour Party has got itself into over anti-Semitism.
It primarily kicked off with the resignation and subsequent allegations made by Alex Chalmers, the former co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club. He had claimed a large proportion of members “have some kind of problem with Jews”.
It has since been followed up with the debacle over the suspension, reinstatement and then suspension again of two senior Labour party members amid allegations of anti-Semitism.
Gerry Downing had tweeted an article last summer entitled ‘Why Marxists must address the Jewish question”. The article says: ““The role Zionists have played in the attempted witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign is glaringly obvious. Since the dawning of the period of neo-liberal capitalism in the 1970s, elements of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, from Milton Friedman to Henry Kissinger to the pro-Israel ideologues of the War on Terror, have played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers.”
Meanwhile, Vicki Kirby is being investigated over a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist God” and Jews had “big noses”.
Her suspension led one Labour politician, Wes Streeting MP, to comment, “Better late than never.”
Such reporting has also led some politicians and commentators to speak of an inherent anti-Semitic problem on the left.
Chuka Umunna, Labour MP, and probably the next party leader, said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that.”
Another Labour MP, Angela Smith said: “We need to be really robust about this, both in terms of how we operate our rule book and also about the culture of the party. We all have a responsibility to confront it and deal with it.
“This is not about the left or the right of the Labour Party; this is about basic human decency. Anti-Semitism is dangerous and it just can’t be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, at the weekend Labour MP, John Mann, said there is resurging problem with anti-Semitism within the party, which must be stamped out.
He said the recent growth of the party membership, sparked by left-winger Mr Corbyn’s leadership win, has brought with it some people with ‘out-dated and prejudiced’ views.
However, what no-one appears able or willing to say is what sits behind this issue? Yes, old-fashioned Jew hatred will form a part of it, it always will in any given political or social wing. We have too much experience in that regard to be naive about it. But the recent rise, insurgency if you will, is simply and plainly rooted in and derived from hatred of all matters Israel.
The most obvious evidence for this is seen on college and University campuses across the globe. The net effect of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and its associated acolytes (a term AntiSemitismWatch has coined to refer to such protests as Israeli Apartheid Week) has been widely recognised as creating a climate of fear and intimidation that has spread across university and college campuses towards Jewish students and organisations. It is the political left-wing that forms the ‘natural home’ of this ideology.
Before the chorus of uproar that follows this statement is heard; the same chorus that stops politicians from saying it, we have always maintained that it is absolutely possible to criticize or challenge the government and policies of Israel without straying into Anti-Semitic territory. Indeed, people have the rights and freedom to criticize any nation-state. The simple problem is that there is overwhelming evidence that the BDS movement does not tread that path. It, instead, is full of vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy. BDS drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.
The BDS movement is systemically anti-Semitic. The political left is in danger of becoming similarly so, and so is the Labour Party.
As the systematically anti-Semitic BDS movement and its acolytes, like Israeli Apartheid Week, try to continue their weary journey, even Christian groups in South Africa have started to rail against them.
The Defend Embrace Invest (In) and Support Israel (DEISI) group‚ supported by other groups, has announced a, “Countrywide protest against the BDS (Boycott‚ Divestment‚ and Sanctions against Israel) movement”.
“We condemn such actions by the BDS movement as being unconstitutional‚ opposed to freedom of association and a threat to the employment and stability of the ordinary South Africans employed by those companies‚” DEISI said.
“This is an unacceptable practice of racism and anti-Semitism by the BDS movement and must be called out for its bigotry.
“We believe it is our responsibility to defend the right of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders in their homeland.”
The DEISI statement described itself as “a national group of Christians who have a love for Israel”.
“Only peace and love should be spread from South Africa to The Holy Land of Israel‚” it declared.
The protest action comes as anti-Israel activists hold Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa. They are planning protests in major cities including Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The net effect of the BDS movement and its associated acolytes (a term AntiSemitismWatch has coined to refer to such protests as Israeli Apartheid Week) has been widely recognised as creating a climate of fear and intimidation that has spread across university and college campuses towards Jewish students and organisations. The evidence is overwhelming and is covered almost daily in the media both mainstream and social. BDS drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions. In part, it is also driven by straightforward, old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
While in the US, reports continue to surface of anti-Semitic occurrences or anti-Semitic graffiti being plastered across college campuses. Just looking at reports in the last 24 hours brings home the shocking reality:
A swastika and anti-Semitic slur were found on Purdue University’s campus Monday. The messages were written on a whiteboard outside of an office for the American Studies Program.
Ohio via Religion News Service – Imagine: you’re a parent of a Jewish kid, and you’ve forked over more than $64 000 for that kid to attend Oberlin College. The last thing either you or your kid expected was to encounter anti-Jewish hatred on campus.
Dr. Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition at Oberlin, has been posting anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic diatribes on her Facebook page. She has said that “Israel and Zionist Jews” were behind the 9/11 attacks; that the Mossad orchestrated the Charlie Hebdo attack, and that Israel is responsible for ISIS.
Yesterday, the college’s reaction to Karega got sharper; its board of trustees denounced her posts as “anti-Semitic and abhorrent.”
But, it gets worse.
Every student on the Oberlin campus received an anonymous email with this message: “The state of Israel, Zionist Jews are pure evil. They did 9/11.” This is no coincidence. There is a straight line from Professor Karena’s feverish rantings to this mass email, which was either inspired by, or emboldened by, her hateful rhetoric.
The daughter of a friend of mine attends Oberlin. These are her words: “As a supporter of Israel, I no longer feel safe on this campus.”
Connecticut via Jewish Press.com – A Connecticut College professor has told colleagues that his school has grown so hostile toward Jews that he can no longer recommend Jewish students or professors study or teach at the college.
“In my opinion, this harassment of Jews on campus in the name of fighting for social justice should end; immediately,” wrote Spencer J. Pack, an economics professor, in a faculty-wide email.
AntiSemitismWatch has merely provided a narrow snapshot of the impact BDS is having. We have deliberately limited the scale of coverage for illustrative purposes. Be under no illusion, the anti-Semitism being generated via BDS is international in scale.
AntiSemitismWatch is pushing for university trustees and heads, governments and politicians to wake up to what is going on and robustly address the reality that Jewish students and communities are being confronted with.
Let us know your views, thoughts and experiences via the comment section below or by email email@example.com
The Jerusalem Post has reported that Vienna is seeking to pull the plug on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) events planned for early March in a municipal-funded building.
“We would like a cancellation,” said a spokesman for the city’s mayor, Martin Ritzmaier, when asked about the BDS activities in the city-subsidized Amerlinghaus building.
He added that the city of Vienna has contacted the management of the Amerlinghaus cultural center to urge a cancellation of the BDS activities.
“The city of Vienna rejects boycott calls against the State of Israel and the association BDS-Austria receives no funding from the city of Vienna,” said Ritzmaier. Vienna’s mayor is the Social Democrat Michael Häupl.
Vienna’s Jewish community, which has over 7,000 members, has banded together with a coalition of civil society groups fighting anti-Semitism that are slated to hold a rally against BDS-Austria events in March. The rally is titled “Against the anti-Semitic masquerade of ‘Israeli Apartheid Week.”’ The group’s website is titled “Boycott anti-Semitism.”
Stefan Schaden, a board member of the Austrian-Israeli Society, wrote: “BDS has an appalling record of perpetuating old anti-Semitic stereotypes by projecting them onto the Jewish state. Our society therefore supports the broad coalition of civil society organizations that came together to stand up against any form of anti-Semitism.”
Lisa Grösel, a spokeswoman for the Amerlinghaus, told the Post that the “cultural center is anti-fascist and anti-racist, in which there is no place for anti-Semitism.”
She said “anti-Semitism is in no way an opinion, rather a deeply racist position.”
Pressed to answer if the Amerlinghaus views BDS as anti-Semitic, Grösel refused to respond.
Samuel Laster, an Israeli-born journalist who is editor-in-chief of the Vienna-based news website The Jewish, told the Post the BDS-Austria group will “attack Israel in the Armerlinghaus in an old anti-Semitic connotation: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’ it was called in 1938. Today in 2016 it is called: Boycott Israel.”