March 16, 2017 | The Jerusalem Post

Frankfurt Mayor Urges Cancellation of BDS ‘Dont Buy From Jews’ Event

Frankfurt Mayor Uwe Becker hammered a pro-Palestinian group on Monday and Wednesday for promoting a Nazi-style boycott against Israel and told a local center to cancel a June event with the organization.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state that the group – German Coordinating Circle Palestine/Israel, or Kopi – supports, pursues “deeply antisemitic propaganda,” Becker told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily. He added that BDS uses “the same language as the National Socialists… ‘Don’t Buy from Jews.’”

Becker announced on Wednesday that he plans to stage a protest against the Kopi event in front of its location in June, according to a report in the Rundschau.

The anti-Israel event, titled “50 Years of Israeli Occupation,” is slated to take place at the Ka Eins Conference Center in Frankfurt on June 9 and 10.

Becker is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party.

Co-organizer of the protest demonstration, Sacha Stawski told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday: “Frankfurt is a multicultural city with a strong connection to Israel. There is no place for one-sided Israel-hatred. An event which criticizes the core of Israel’s existence, which calls for a boycott of the Jewish state, which demonizes and delegitimizes Israel and which applies a double standard on the Jewish state – which it does not apply to any other state – has nothing to do with legitimate criticism and should not take place here.”

Stawski, who is editor-in-chief of the Frankfurt-based media watchdog organization Honestly Concerned, added, “We are grateful to Mayor Uwe Becker for his outspoken criticism and we are still hopeful to be able to prevent this antisemitic hate-fest from taking place.”

He called the participants “an assembly of Israel-haters and antisemites, who regularly propagate for the demise of the Jewish state, who speak of an ‘ethical cleansing’ of the Palestinian population and who compare Jews to Nazis.”

Bizhan Alkanaan, a spokesman from the Ka Eins, told the Post on Wednesday that Kopi rented the venue last year for a little under $2,000. He said he spoke to Becker’s office on Wednesday and would be willing to cancel the contract if either the Frankfurt Jewish community or the mayor will cover the costs of a potential lawsuit.

Alkanaan said the center bans “fascists and Islamists” from renting the space, but added, “we don’t know about the topic” for the June event.

Leo Latasch, from the executive board of the 6,600-member Frankfurt Jewish community, told the Rundschau it was outrageous that the conference planners want to “publicly call for a boycott of Israeli products.”

The speakers list for the event contains a who’s who of BDS activists, including former Left Party MP Norman Paech and Kopi spokesman Matthias Jochheim, who were aboard the radical Islamist flotilla Mavi Marmara in 2010. That vessel sought to break Israel’s UN-approved naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Iris Hefets, an Israeli who lives in Germany and is affiliated with the pro-BDS German group Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, is also listed as a speaker at the event. The German Bank for Social Economy terminated the account of Jewish Voice in 2016 because the NGO did not meet the bank’s ethical standards. The bank said, “The positions of the BDS campaign, in content and style, go way beyond the framework of ordinary democratic discourse.”

A member of Jewish Voice spoke at a pro-Hamas event in 2015 in Berlin. His BDS account with Commerzbank was closed last year. The Post learned that the reasons for closure were likely terrorism and antisemitism.

Stawski called the Frankfurt event “part of a series of hate fests scheduled to take place in other cities, like Bonn, or previously in Bremen.”

There is growing opposition to a late- March BDS event planned in Bonn with Martin Breidert, who is listed as a spokesperson for Kopi. A press release sent to the Ka Eins, from the group rejected Becker’s criticism.

Telephone and email queries from the Post to representatives of Kopi were not immediately returned.

Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.