July 11, 2018 | The Jerusalem Post

Calls for German Festival director to resign over BDS support

The artistic director of a music festival in the west German city of Bochum is facing growing pressure to resign because of her intense defense of a boycott campaign targeting the Jewish state.

Stefanie Carp, the director of the music and cultural festival Ruhrtriennale, told a cultural committee on Thursday in the parliament of the state of  North Rhine-Westphalia, where Bochum is located, that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel is not antisemitic but merely fights for the “right of Palestine to exist,” according to a Friday report on the website of the WDR news outlet.

Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal’s Center in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “the German government has itself recognized BDS as a form of antisemitism.” Zuroff added that “It is unfortunate that a person in charge of an important cultural event is supporting antisemitism or any type of prejudice or discrimination.”

The Free Democratic Party faction in the state parliament said on Friday that a “new personnel restructuring of the Ruhrtriennale” is “necessary,” reported WDR, adding that the Green Party views Carp’s behavior as resulting in a “strong loss of trust throughout all of the factions.”

Public funds finance the annual Ruhrtriennale. The Post sent a series of questions to Carp. Alexander Kruse, a spokesman for the Ruhrtriennale, responded by email that “Ms. Carp is unfortunately not available for an interview.” He and the management of the Ruhrtriennale declined to answer a follow-up query.

Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, the cultural minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, also criticized Carp’s conduct. “It cannot be excluded that this decision will give the BDS campaign a platform at the Ruhrtriennale,” she said, adding “At times of increasing antisemitic crimes and other incidents, sadly also in North-Rhine Westphalia, this is the wrong signal.”

Carp has voiced support for the Scottish band Young Fathers that supports BDS. An ongoing dispute has raged in Bochum over the festival’s invitation to bands that support a boycott of the Jewish state. In Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, deputy mayor and city treasurer Uwe Becker said in late June: “It is important to stress that artists who support the antisemitic BDS movement are not welcome in Frankfurt. Festivals or organizations risk possible city funds if they provide a platform in Frankfurt to supporters or support BDS.”

Two newly-released German intelligence reports equated boycotts of Israel to the Hitler era’s “Don’t buy from Jews!” campaign. The neo-Nazi party The Third Way and scores of pro-Palestinian and radical Islamic organizations in Germany support BDS.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.