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.”