Munich's cultural affairs department pulled the plug on an anti- Israel lecture slated for Friday in a city-subsidized building, because the talk would have crossed the line into antisemitism.
Stefan Hauf, a spokesman for the mayor, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the city’s cultural commissioner intervened to stop the lecture on “Antisemitism Today” organized by the Salam Shalom Working Circle Palestine-Israel association.
Munich’s cultural commissioner, Hans- Georg Küppers, said in a letter to Eine-Welt- Haus – where the lecture was to be held – that it was probable that “during the event the line between criticism of Israel and antisemitism will be crossed,” the Merkur news outlet reported.
Salam Shalom – a hardcore anti-Israel group – promotes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign on its website targeting the Jewish state. ”Salam Shalom has no right to be in city rooms. Salam Shalom would be better located in the NPD headquarters,” Green Party city councilman Dominik Krause told the Merkur.
The NPD is the main neo-Nazi party in Germany.
The obscure anti-Israel activist who was slated to deliver the lecture in Munich lost a court case to prominent German Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder in 2007. Broder termed the speaker an “expert[s] in applied Jew-phobia.”
The Post reported exclusively in June that Commerzbank – Germany’s second largest bank – closed the bank account of the anti-Israel speaker’s website, Der Semit.
A kind of whack-a-mole approach to shut down the anti-Israel event unfolded in Munich on Thursday and Friday. After the Eine-Welt-Haus cancellation, Salam Shalom relocated the lecture to the GOROD cultural center. GOROD – an organization created for the integration of Russian migrants – then walked back its invitation.
Salam Shalom then announced that the Catholic institution KKV Hansa as the lecture space.
Christoph Kappes, a spokesman for Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, wrote the Post on Friday that the “event will not, according to information of the KKV Hansa München, take place at KKV.”
He added that Cardinal Marx, who is also the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, “rejects every form of antisemitism, racism and defamation and does not give these positions any platform.”
In a letter obtained by the Post from Richard Quaas, a Munich city councilman, from the Christian Social Union Party to the mayor, he wrote that if the talk took place “it would be grist for the mill of antisemites in our country – from the left and the right – and with support from the city.”
In response Eckhard Lenner, the chairman of Salam Shalom, told Merkur that the cancellation is a “scandal, a curtailment of free speech.” He called Israel a “colonial state in the 21 century” and blamed the “Israel lobby” for the canceled lecture.
After the Post revealed that Munich provided city-funded space to Christoph Glanz, a leading BDS advocate in Germany, in November 2015, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter promised the head of the Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, that similar events would be banned in the future.
Knobloch blasted the Glanz event at the time.“The BDS campaign disguises the socially unacceptable,” Knobloch, told the Post, adding, “It has modernized the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’ by demanding, “Don’t buy from the Jewish state.”
Glanz, a public school teacher at the IGS Flötenteich school in the northern city of Oldenburg, has come under fire in September for his alleged antisemitism. He is the subject of an ongoing investigation by school authorities for possible violations of his civil service neutrality requirement.
Glanz said it is not absurd to destroy the Jewish state and relocate Israel to Germany.
According to a Tuesday report in the NWZ-Online outlet, Klaus Thörner, the head of the German-Israel friendship society in Oldenburg, accused Glanz of playing down the Holocaust, because Glanz said at a school event commemorating the Holocaust in 2013 that Israel committed genocide on the Palestinians.
Thörner said it is therefore justified to label Glanz an antisemite. Glanz refused to answer multiple Post emails about antisemitism allegations leveled against him from critics in Israel, Germany and the United States.
In July, the German multinational company Hasco discharged a group leader who, like Glanz, denigrated Israel during his free time. The German Muslim employee crossed out a Star of David and wrote, “F*** You Israel,” on his Facebook page. Glanz wrote on his twitter feed that “Israel’s government is a racist freak show.”
The company’s works council, as well as the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), argued that the Hasco worker should not be promoted, because his antisemitic statements are not protected free speech.
Glanz is a member of the teachers’ union.
Bianca Schöneich, a spokeswoman for the school authority in the state of Lower Saxony, where Oldenburg is located, told the Post that “the termination from the civil service is one of the disciplinary measures of the disciplinary law.” She said that the process and pre-conditions are not comparable with the discharge of an employee from a private employment relationship.
Benjamin Weinthal is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @benjaminweinthal.