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Boycott Calls Against Israel
BDS, Israeli Apartheid Week and the Accusations of Antisemitism

 

14.03.19

Editorial Note

 

The Palestinian BDS movement has published its schedule for the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week in the U.S and Europe, on March 16 and 18, 2019 respectively.  Unlike in previous years, the number of events seems to be smaller. Still, Israeli and Jewish students and faculty need to be on alert. 

Wealthy Arab states as well as the universities themselves, sponsor these Israeli Apartheid events.  For example, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate, the main governing body for Tufts undergraduate students, has passed various resolutions on March 10, among them approving the supplementary funding requests from student organizations.   Students for Justice in Palestine, for instance, sought $3,520 to cover speaker costs for events during Israeli Apartheid Week. Another group, the Arab Students Association, sought $3,460 for additional speaker costs for Israeli Apartheid Week, which was also approved by the TCU Senate.


Pitzer College Council will be voting today whether to suspend Pitzer’s only study abroad program in Israel with the University of Haifa.

 

There are some pro-Israel successful cases, for example, the Columbia College Student Council voted down a referendum supporting BDS, on March 10. 

 

However, not all Israelis agree on what is good or bad for Israel. A few days ago a group of Israeli and international scholars, led by Dr. Yaara Beneger-Alaluf, and Prof. Amos Goldberg, have written an open letter to the Academia IL Network titled "Stop false accusations of Antisemitism in Germany!” They complained against the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of anti-Semitism.  They also lamented that BDS is often perceived as anti-Semitic. In their words, "As you probably know a battle over the definition of antisemitism and its relations to harsh critique of Israel, opposition to Zionism and support of the BDS, is being waged in Europe and America." The battle, "rather plays into the hands of the right-wing forces who wish to reduce the space of free speech when it comes to a discussion over Israel."  

 

The group's open letter postulates that the conflation between criticism of the state of Israel and anti-Semitism "obscures valid critique of Israel’s war crimes and violation of human rights, undermining the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality and discriminating against the Palestinian community in Germany by preventing Palestinian people to freely express their opinions, their grief and sorrow. In light of both the increase in anti-Semitism and racist crimes in Germany and the escalation in Israeli violence against Palestinians, we urge the German authorities, media, educational and academic professionals and institutions to act responsibly and put an end to this manipulative and dangerous conflation." 

 

Contrary to their assertion, the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism states clearly that "criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic," but it certainly accuses of double standards of those targeting Israel alone. If they were actively promoting human rights for Palestinians by criticizing Hamas and the other violent groups for breaching human rights of Palestinians, that would have been acceptable, but ignoring Hamas and targeting Israel alone is classified as antisemitic.   


In many of the Israeli Apartheid Week events, Palestinian activists chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Benger-Alaluf and her fellow-activists might assume that these chants mean freedom for all, but they do not. They stipulate the obliteration of the Jewish state.  Last month, antisemitic posters with images of pigs were posted on Tufts campus, stating "Destroy Israeli apartheid forces and Amerikkkan pigs which fund it. Free Palestine." Do Benger-Alaluf and ilk claim this is not antisemitic?

 

IAM reported that Goldberg is a Holocaust scholar at the Hebrew University who actively promotes the equation of the Nakba to the Holocaust. 

 

Benger-Alaluf is a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. Her Ph.D., completed in 2018 at the Freie Universität Berlin, is The Emotional Economy of British Seaside Holidaymaking, 1870-1918. Her 2013 MA thesis at the Hebrew University Department of Sociology and Anthropology, supervised by Prof Eva Illouz, was titled "Commodification of Emotions in Tourism: Exploring the Production of Relaxation in Club Med Resorts". Even if Benger-Alaluf’s core interest is the sociology of leisure, supporting BDS is considered a good career move when looking for a position in a Western university, given their singular preoccupation with the Palestinians.  

The IHRA Definition of antisemitism is: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis." In other words, singling out Israel while ignoring others is antisemitic in nature.

 






---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Micah Leshem <micahl@psy.haifa.ac.il>
Date: Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 5:14 PM
Subject: [Academia-IL] Scholars, Please consider signing: Stop false accusations of Antisemitism in Germany!
To: Academia Network <academia-il@listserver.cc.huji.ac.il>


---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Benger Alaluf, Yaara <benger@mpib-berlin.mpg.de>
Date: Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 12:46 AM
Subject: Please consider signing: Stop false accusations of Antisemitism in Germany!
To: 
Cc: amos.goldberg@mail.huji.ac.il <amos.goldberg@mail.huji.ac.il>

 

Dear friends and colleagues,

 

Please consider signing the attached open letter!

 

As you probably know a battle over the definition of antisemitism and its relations to harsh critique of Israel, opposition to Zionism and support of the BDS, is being waged in Europe and America. Let us say right at the beginning that as signers of the letter and as stated explicitly in it, we don't necessarily share a common view of the BDS, but we do contend that this in itself is not antisemitic and should not be abused for silencing harsh critique over Israel and/or its policies. 

 

This is not a theoretical issue but rather a very acute one. Four recent cases in Germany accumulate to a very dangerous trend that if continues will make any substantial critique of Israel and its policies practically impossible: 

1.    The Berlin House of Representatives passed the resolution “Against Any Antisemitism - Protect Jewish life in Berlin”, which adopts IHRA's working definition of antisemitism and consequently describes any criticism of Israel, and even the rejection of the religious-ethnic discrimination within Israel, as a threat to Jewish life.

2.    Three activists who disrupted a "Hasbara" talk given by MK Aliza Lavie at the Humboldt University in Berlin are charged in a criminal court

3.    The bank account of "Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East", a small activists group based in Germany and comprised mainly of former Israelis is since 2016 under a threat to be shut due to its support of the BDS. Recently the bank decided to conduct a ‘scientific review’ to determine whether the group  is antisemitic.

4.    The very group was nominated for the 2019 Göttingen Peace Prize (and received it today!), but the local municipality, the sponsor of the event and the university of Göttingen withdrew their traditional support and participation in the ceremony following false accusations of antisemitism.

We, a group of scholars from Israel and all over the world, view it as our responsibility to protest against these trends and try to change them. We believe none of these actions advances the pressing fight against contemporary forms of antisemitism, but rather plays into the hands of the right-wing forces who wish to reduce the space of free speech when it comes to a discussion over Israel. 

 

In case you decide to sign please send an email to Amos Goldberg (amos.goldberg@mail.huji.ac.il) or Yaara Benger Alaluf (benger@mpib-berlin.mpg.de) and include your full name, your institutional affiliation and your field of study.

 

March 2019

 

 

A CALL TO INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS IN GERMANY TO PUT AN END TO THE MANIPULATIVE AND DANGEROUS CONFLATION BETWEEN CRITICISM OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND ANTI-SEMITISM

 

We are scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish, Israeli and non-Israeli, many of whom focus professionally on Jewish studies and the Holocaust. We have been observing with great concern the rise in antisemitism around the world and, in particular, the increase in the number of violent crimes against Jews and Muslims in Germany in the last years. We unconditionally support the fight against hate crimes in Germany and Europe. We are also worried about a parallel trend – the growing tendency, especially in Germany, of conflating Judaism with Zionism and labeling supporters of Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic.

Last May, the Berlin House of Representatives passed a resolution embracing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) controversial “working definition of antisemitism,” thus describing any criticism of Israel, and even opposition to religious-ethnic discrimination within Israel, as a threat to Jewish life. At the same time, it labels supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic. Not all of us who have signed this letter support BDS, yet we all reject the deceitful allegation that it is anti-Semitic, and we strongly defend the right of any individual or organization to support it. False accusations of anti-Semitism are a shameful mockery of the Holocaust and serve only to bolster racist and anti-democratic forces. Likewise, the identification of anti-Zionism or harsh critique of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism undermines the long history of Jewish opposition to Zionism and/or to Israeli policies, in addition to erasing legitimate critiques by non-Jews which have no basis in anti-Semitism.

Above all, the resolution reflects a persistent effort to delegitimize any discourse about Palestinian rights. Only days after the passing of the resolution, the Freie Universität Berlin was pressured to cancel a talk by the distinguished anthropologist Susan Slyomovics, a Jewish-Canadian scholar and herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Slyomovics, whose talk examined the possible application of reparations models to the conflict in Israel-Palestine, was said to be an illegitimate speaker due to her public support of the BDS movement.

A further worrisome example is the ongoing harassment that the organization “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East” (Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden in Nahost e.V.) has faced from the Bank for Social Economy (Bank für Sozialwirtschaft) that closed and reopened the organization’s bank account in 2016-2017 because of the group’s support for BDS. The bank’s recent call to “scientifically” determine whether the group is “anti-Semitic” according to the IHRA’s definition illustrates the absurd consequences of the flawed association between critique of Israel and hatred of Jews. Unfortunately, academics are also taking part in political harassment disguised as “a fight against anti-Semitism” and the attendant severe violation of free speech. Today, “Jewish Voice” faces a smear campaign following its nomination for the 2019 Göttingen Peace Prize. Opponents called for the award not to be given to BDS supporters, inciting outrageous accusations that echo Nazi conspiracies. Once again, German politicians evaluate authentic “Jewishness.” Once again, internal Jewish politics are being controlled and monitored.

Last but not least, three BDS activists are being charged in a criminal court in Berlin for disrupting a talk given at the Humboldt University by former Member of the Knesset Aliza Lavie in June 2017. The German press immediately accepted Lavie’s propaganda and framed the incident as an anti-Semitic attack. The charges against the activists – trespassing and assault – are unreasonable and unprecedentedly disproportionate considering that the event was open to the public, that the only participant physically assaulted was one of the activists, and that interrupting a political (not academic) speaker should be considered a reasonable act of protest in any democratic public sphere. This persecution can only be understood in the context of the growing restrictions on freedom of speech when it comes to criticizing Israel and the unbearable ease with which boycott supporters are labelled as anti-Semites.

None of these actions advance the pressing fight against anti-Semitism. Moreover, all of these incidents support and are supported by the most rightwing Israeli government in history. This is a government which denies basic individual and collective rights to Palestinians and other minorities and whose prime minister recently embraced supremacist, misogynistic and homophobic extremists, said to be the Israeli equivalent of the KKK. We fail to see how supporting these political forces helps in the fight anti-Semitism or accords with the post-World War II German commitment to the values of human rights and fighting any form of racism.

The conflation of hostility against Jews with legitimate critique of Israeli policies and non-violent opposition to the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people ignores the serious problems that face us today. In practice, this conflation leads to the targeting of civil society organizations and smears against Jews for their political beliefs, instead of allocating resources for anti-racism education and applying effective measures against anti-Semitic offenders. Further, this conflation obscures valid critique of Israel’s war crimes and violation of human rights, undermining the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality and discriminating against the Palestinian community in Germany by preventing Palestinian people to freely express their opinions, their grief and sorrow.

 

In light of both the increase in anti-Semitism and racist crimes in Germany and the escalation in Israeli violence against Palestinians, we urge the German authorities, media, educational and academic professionals and institutions to act responsibly and put an end to this manipulative and dangerous conflation between criticism of the state of Israel and anti-Semitism. We must fight real anti-Semitism and all forms of racism without playing into supremacist interests, and we must safeguard free expression and protect democratic spaces, rather than threaten and silence those who nonviolently express their political beliefs.




=========================================================





Call Out | 15th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week 

February 28, 2019

The 15th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week of actions will take place all around the world between March 18th and April 8th 2019 under the theme “Stop Arming Colonialism”

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It now takes place in over 200 cities across the world, where events such as lectures, film screenings, direct action, cultural performances, postering, among many more help in grassroots organizing for effective solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Israel is able to maintain its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over Palestinians partly due to its arms sales and the military support it receives from governments across the world. The United States alone is the single largest supplier of arms and military aid to Israel, followed by European states. These directly sustain Israel’s oppression and human rights violations.

In the Global South, Israel has been known to supply weapons to genocidal regimes in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and elsewhere. Presently, Israel is a major arms exporter to right-wing, authoritarian regimes from Brazil to India, the Philippines and beyond. These weapons are promoted as ‘field-tested’, which means they have been used to kill or injure Palestinians. In fact, Israel is already promoting the technology it has used to repress the Great March of Return in Gaza calling for the right of refugees to return home and an end to the siege. These arms deals finance Israel’s apartheid regime and its illegal occupation while simultaneously deepening militarization and persecution of people’s movements and oppressed communities in countries where they are bought.

The Palestinian-led BDS movement has reiterated the demand for a military embargo on Israel in the light of Israel’s violent repression of the Great March of Return. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have also responded to the Israeli massacre in Gaza with this demand. The UK Labour Party, in its conference in September 2018, passed a motion condemning Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza and called for a freeze of arms sales to Israel.

Ending arms trade, military aid and cooperation with Israel will undercut financial and military support for its regime of apartheid, settler-colonialism and illegal occupation. It will also end the flow of Israeli weapons and security technology and techniques to governments that suppress resistance of their own citizens, people’s movements and communities against policies that deprive them of fundamental rights, including the right to the natural resources of their country.

A military embargo on Israel is a measure for freedom and justice of Palestinians and oppressed peoples in many parts of the world. It can successfully be achieved with massive grassroots efforts, similar to the sustained global mobilization that eventually compelled the United Nations to impose a binding international military embargo against South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 will be an important platform for building the campaign for a military embargo on Israel. We invite progressive groups to organize events on their campuses and in their cities to popularize and build momentum in this direction.

If you would like to organize and be part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 on your campus or in your city, check out what events are already planned at apartheidweek.org, find us on Facebook and Twitter, register onlinehttp://apartheidweek.org/organise/ and get in touch with IAW coordinators in your region.

For more information and support, please contact iawinfo@apartheidweek.org.



=========================================================




Posters with incendiary images, anti-Israel messages deface Tufts Hillel

A poster bearing images of pigs and an anti-Israel caption that appeared at Hillel is pictured on Feb. 12.(Courtesy of Naftali Brawer)

Flyers depicting militarized pigs, including at least one with a caption calling for the destruction of “ISRAELI APARTHEID FORCES AND AMERIKKKAN [sic] PIGS WHICH FUND IT,” were discovered yesterday morning on the exterior of Granoff Family Hillel Center.

Over two dozen posters were found, according to Rabbi Naftali BrawerTufts Hillel’s Neubauer executive director and the campus Jewish chaplain, who saw the posters when he arrived at the center shortly before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. He contacted Tufts University Police Department after he and other Hillel staff members removed the posters from the building.

These posters come days after tweets by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) sparked a national discussion over what constitutes antisemitism. On Sunday, Omar tweeted that American political leaders’ support of Israel is “all about the Benjamins.” Democratic House leadership condemned the tweets as antisemitic. On Monday, Omar tweeted that she “unequivocally apologize[s].”

The cartoons reproduced on the posters do not have explicitly antisemitic origins. Meant to disparage American military imperialism and the police state, the trio of political cartoons originated in the Oakland, Calif.-based Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, and were first published in the Party’s publication, “The Black Panther.”

But their targeted placement at Hillel shocked campus Jewish leaders as a direct affront to the Jewish community. Similar posters had not been found anywhere else on campus as of press time.

Hillel Tufts

Antisemitic posters are pictured outside the Tufts Hillel Center. (Courtesy Naftali Brawer)

In an interview with the Daily, Brawer described how some of the signs were pasted on the Hillel windows facing inwards, as if to send a message “to those inside the building.”

“We were clearly targeted as a Jewish center,” he said.

The posters represent the latest in a string of antisemitic acts on American college campuses, Robert Trestan, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office, said in an interview with the Daily.

Trestan explained that many instances of campus antisemitism have not taken place on or around Jewish institutions. Antisemitic symbols appeared in Lewis Hall in 2014 and on Packard Avenue in 2015.

Trestan called the posters at Tufts “unique” because of their placement on the Hillel building.

“I think what makes this one unique and particularly upsetting is that [the posters] targeted the Jewish community at Tufts,” he said. “The fliers were targeting the Jewish students at Tufts in the place where they feel safest and most welcome — the Hillel building.”

University officials did not explicitly label the posters as antisemitic or anti-Zionist on Tuesday.

In an email sent to the Tufts community shortly after 3:00 p.m., University President Anthony Monaco described the incident as an affront to campus culture.

“The derogatory images and symbolism in these posters were profoundly disturbing and hurtful to those targeted and to others in our community,” Monaco said at the time. “Our Jewish students, faculty, and staff, and all those who participate in Hillel programs, have my support as members of our community.”

He announced that the university would conduct an investigation into the matter.

Tufts’ Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins confirmed in an email to the Daily that the Office of the President was not aware that at least one poster included an anti-Israel statement when he issued his initial statement on Tuesday.

“After President Monaco issued his statement to the community this afternoon, we became aware of additional information on one of the flyers that heightens our concern about this disturbing incident,” Collins said in an email to the Daily. “We will refer this additional information for further investigation.”

One of the posters found outside the Hillel Center. (Courtesy Naftali Brawer)

Brawer did not initially know that at least one of the posters called for the destruction of “Israeli Apartheid forces.” He only learned of, and subsequently confirmed this, after being informed by the Daily.

Some student leaders called the action antisemitic. 

Tufts Friends of Israel (FOI) Co-President Ben Shapiro, a junior, and FOI’s Director of Outreach Annika Witt, a sophomore, said the posters were offensive and misguided.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel is blatantly antisemitic, and is defined as such by the State Department and the Department of Education,” they said in a joint statement provided in an electronic message to the Daily.

“If we want to fight oppression and bigotry, especially on campus, we must call it what it is: antisemitism.”

Talia Inbar, regional co-chair of J Street U and former co-chair of the Tufts chapter, similarly condemned “manifestations of antisemitism and white supremacy on our campus.”

Inbar, a senior, echoed FOI’s statement that the actions of Israel cannot be held against all Jews. She also called the posters a distraction to serious dialogue.

“These posters are damaging to the Tufts community because they get in the way of the important and productive conversations and legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy,” she said in an electronic message to the Daily.

Freddie Birnbaum, student co-president of Hillel, stated that he had seen the anti-Israel poster on Tuesday morning. Speaking on his own behalf, he confirmed that some of the posters faced into the Hillel Center. He said they were deliberately targeting the Jewish community.

“While the content of the posters is directly related to Israel and anti-Zionist sentiment, the fact that they’re only targeting the Jewish community with the sentiments feels antisemitic to me,” Birnbaum, a junior, said.

Regardless of the intent and identities of those responsible, which remained unknown as of press time, Birnbaum said that the placement of the posters constitutes an act of antisemitism.

Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate also issued a response to the posters, urging the Tufts community to support marginalized communities on campus.

“This year, we have witnessed an uptick of incidents that target specific marginalized identities on campus, which is unacceptable and antithetical to the community we wish to foster at Tufts,” the TCU Senate Executive Board said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

Another one of the posters found outside the center. (Courtesy Naftali Brawer)

Rabbi Tzvi Backman, director of the Rohr Chabad House serving Tufts, pushed back against the posters’ intent, which he described as an attempt to intimidate campus Jews.

Backman connected the posters to the resurgence of antisemitism in America.

“Although I believe we need to be aware of these increases and look for ways to mitigate [them], we have to not allow this to intimidate us in any way,” he said, referring to Tufts’ Jewish community. He called upon campus Jews to embrace their identity.

Brawer emphasized the impact of the incident.

“It’s been a really unsettling experience for everyone here at Hillel. It shows us that bigotry and hatred are sadly alive and well, even on a university campus. And that only causes us to redouble our efforts to be a place that celebrates diversity, difference and respectful dialogue,” he said. “That’s the Hillel way.”

Jessica Blough and Liza Harris contributed reporting to this article.

=======================================================





http://bds-kampagne.de/2016/10/25/offener-brief-israelischer-und-juedischer-kulturschaffender-in-berlin/

Offener Brief israelischer und jüdischer Kulturschaffender in Berlin

25. Oktober 2016
(English below)

Wir, jüdische und israelische Kulturschaffende, Wissenschaftler_innen und Aktivist_innen, die in Berlin leben oder hier aktiv sind, nehmen hiermit Stellung zu den beunruhigenden Äußerungen mehrerer Organisationen, Journalisten und Politiker, die das Recht auf freie Meinungsäußerung in Bezug auf den Israel-Palästina-Konflikt in Frage gestellt haben.

Viele von uns haben Israel verlassen, weil wir das zunehmend beängstigende Klima der Einschüchterung von Kritiker_innen der Besatzungspolitik und der zunehmenden Einschränkungen der Redefreiheit nicht mehr ertragen können oder wollen.

Seit mehreren Jahren versucht die rechtsnationalistische Netanjahu-Regierung, progressive und palästinensische Stimmen zum Schweigen zu bringen. So wurden öffentliche Gelder für israelisch-palästinensische Kulturinstitutionen gestrichen, oppositionelle Künstler_innen seitens rassistischer Organisationen bedroht und kritische Stimmen in Universität und Medien wurden und werden unter extremen Druck gesetzt.

Wir haben immer gehofft und es in den vergangenen Jahren teilweise auch so erlebt, dass Berlin ein Ort ist, an dem Debatten möglich sind. Angesichts der bedrückenden Entwicklungen in Israel, sind wir entsetzt, nun auch in dieser Stadt zu erleben, dass kritische Äußerungen zu Israels Besatzungspolitik ähnlich unsachlich als “Israel-Hass” oder „antisemitisch“ gebrandmarkt werden. Noch befremdlicher ist es für uns, dass die Rufe nach politischer Zensur auch von Parteimitgliedern und Organisationen kommen, die sich keineswegs in der rechtsnationalistischen Ecke verorten, oder sich sogar als Linke bezeichnen.

Anlass für unseren Brief ist die aktuelle öffentliche Kampagne gegen das Ballhaus Naunynstraße und das von ihm mitgetragene palästinensische Kunstfestival “After the Last Sky”, in dem angeblich “anti-israelische Hetze” toleriert wurde. Einmal abgesehen von den Verleumdungen in diesem Zusammenhang, das Festival oder einzelne Beiträge seien gewaltverherrlichend gewesen, begründeten Medien und Politiker im Übrigen den Ruf nach einer Streichung öffentlicher Gelder mit kritischen Äußerungen jüdischer und palästinensischer Mitwirkender_innen über den Staat Israel im Rahmen des Festivals. Des Weiteren wurde die tatsächliche oder angebliche Unterstützung der BDS-Bewegung durch Kuratorinnen des Festivals skandalisiert.

Wir, die Unterzeichner_innen, sind durchaus unterschiedlicher Meinung darüber, ob Begriffe wie „Apartheid“, „Kolonialismus“ und „ethnische Säuberung“ in Bezug auf die Geschichte und Gegenwart des Staates Israel zutreffend oder nützlich sind; wir haben auch unterschiedliche Positionen zum palästinensischen Aufruf nach Boykott, Desinvestitionen und Sanktionen gegen den Staat Israel; wir stellen aber fest, dass die Diskussion über diese Begriffe und die Argumente der BDS-Bewegung, legitime Bestandteile einer öffentlichen Debatte über die politische Situation in Israel-Palästina sind.

Eine politische Zensur gegen Einzelpersonen und Kulturinstitutionen, die einen Raum für Kritik an der israelischen Politik anbieten, lehnen wir grundsätzlich ab. Die Einschüchterungseffekte die solche Drohungen nach sich ziehen, halten wir für desaströs für die Diskussionskultur in einer freien Gesellschaft. Sie verhindern im Übrigen die notwendige Debatte über die Mitverantwortung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland für die Situation im Nahen-Osten, insbesondere für die seit fast 50 Jahren andauernde israelische Besatzung.

Als Juden und Israelis, die nicht umhin können, sich mit dem Themenkomplex Nahost zu beschäftigen und sich von den Entwicklungen in der Region stets betroffen fühlen, empfinden wir solche Rufe nach Einschränkung der Meinungsfreiheit als extrem bedrohlich und auch gegen unsere eigene künstlerische und akademische Freiheit gerichtet.

Die leichtfertige Instrumentalisierung von Antisemitismus-Vorwürfen gegen linke Israelis, Palästinenser_innen und andere, sehen wir zudem als schwerwiegendes Hindernis bei der Bekämpfung von tatsächlichen antisemitischen Tendenzen, die angesichts des Rechtsrucks in Deutschland immer notwendiger wird.

Wir sind uns sehr wohl bewusst, dass sich in politischen Äußerungen über Israel und Palästina, Antisemitismus oder anti-muslimischer Rassismus manifestieren können. Gerade deshalb betonen wir die Bedeutung einer Diskussion, die Menschenrechte und Gleichberechtigung in den Mittelpunkt stellt. Dabei sind uns die Grundrechte der Palästinenser_innen genauso wichtig, wie die der jüdisch-israelischen Bevölkerung.

Das palästinensische Kunstfestival „After the Last Sky“, das von migrantischen und anti-rassistische Künstler_innen organisiert wurde, scheint uns genau diese Werte zu repräsentieren. Deshalb erklären wir unsere volle Solidarität mit dem Ballhaus Naunynstraße und mit den Kuratorinnen des Festivals.

Liste der Unterzeichner_innen am Ende des englischen Textes

English Translation:

Open letter by Israelis and Jewish cultural workers in Berlin

We, cultural workers, academics and activists, Jewish and Israeli, who reside or are active in Berlin, take a stand against the concerning statements made by organizations, newspapers and politicians which undermine the right to freedom of expression regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Many of us left Israel because we could not or did not want to continue to suffer in an environment evoking fear of threats against critics of the occupation policy or increased restrictions on the freedom of expression. Since a few years ago, the right-wing—nationalist government of Netanyahu has been trying to silence progressive and Palestinian voices. Funding has been frozen to Palestinian-Israeli cultural institutions, dissident artists have been threatened by racist organizations, and critical voices in the academia and media have been under enormous pressure.

We always hoped, and even experienced in recent years, that Berlin is the place where an open debate is possible. In light of developments in Israel, we are upset that also in this city expressions about the Israeli occupation policy are denounced as ‘hatred of Israel’ or ‘anti-Semitism’. Moreover, this call for political censorship comes from organizations and politicians who do not define themselves as right-wing—nationalist and even identify as left-wing.

The reason for this letter is the current campaign against the Ballhaus Naunynstraße and the ‘After the Last Sky’ festival which was organized in partnership with people who allegedly allowed ‘anti-Israeli sentiment’. In addition to this slander were accusations that certain participants advocated violence during the festival. Politicians and the media called for withdrawing public funding on the basis of critical remarks against the State of Israel by Jewish and Palestinian participants. Moreover, the actual or alleged support of the BDS Movement by curators of the festival was scandalized.

We the undersigned have different opinions on concepts such as ‘apartheid’, ‘colonialism’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ as useful or accurate descriptions of the past or present of the State of Israel. We also have different positions about the Palestinians call for boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel. However, we insist on a discussion of these concepts and the arguments by the BDS Movement are a legitimate part of a public debate on the political situation in Israel-Palestine. We are opposed in principle to political censorship of individuals or cultural institutions which allow a space to criticism of Israeli policy. The chilling effect of these threats is the destruction of cultural debate in open society. They also prevent the current debate on the responsibility of Germany regarding the political situation in the Middle East, and particularly on the Israeli occupation which has continued for almost fifty years.

As Jews and Israelis, who cannot avoid dealing with Middle Eastern topics and who are affected by regional developments, we are alarmed by calls for the restriction of free expression, directed also at our freedom of expression as academics and artists. We see the instrumentalization of accusations of anti-Semitism against left-wing Palestinians, Israelis and others as an obstacle in the fight against existing anti-Semitism, which is of particular concern today in light of the rise of the right-wing in Germany.

We are aware that political expressions on Israel and Palestine may also contain anti Semitism and anti-Muslim racism. This is precisely the reason we want to highlight the importance of centring the debate around human rights and equality. The basic rights of Palestinians are as important to us as those of the Jewish-Israeli population. The Palestinian cultural festival ‘After the Last Sky’ was organized by migrant and anti-racists artists, and expresses precisely these values. Therefore, we declare our full solidarity with the Ballhaus Naunynstraße and the organizers of the festival.

Liste der Unterzeichner_innen / List of signers

Tal Adler – Künstler und Forscher Alma Alloro – Künstlerin Udi Aloni – Regisseur Hila Amit – Schriftstellerin und Wissenschaftlerin, Yossi Bartal – Aktivist und Autor Gur Barzilai – Aktivist Andrea Bellu – Künstlerin Matei Bellu – Wissenscahftler Noam Ben Chorin- Aktivist Irad Ben Isaak – Soziologe und Literaturwissenschaftler Sivan Ben Yishai – Theaterregisseurin Gabriel Ben Moshe – Künstler Yaara Benger Alaluf – Wissenschaftlerin Avi Berg – Künstler Vered Berman – Studentin Iddo Bet-Hallahmi – Student Hannah Black – Autorin und Künstlerin Micah Brashear – Lehrer Noam Brusilovsky – Theaterregisseur Zoya Cherkassky-Nnadi – Künstlerin Sidney Corbett – Komponist Tomer Dahan – Tänzer Dr. Irit Dekel – Wissenschaftlerin Tomer Dreyfuss – Akademiker Michael Evgi – Erziehungswissenschaftler Lau Feldstain – Filmmacherin Yemima Fink – Grafikdesignerin Sylvia Finzi – Künstlerin Erica Fischer – Autorin und Übersetzerin Madelon Fleminger – Autorin Amnon Friedman – Künstler Uri Ganani – Musikwissenschaftler Tomer Gardi – Schriftsteller Ori Ginat – Aktivist William Noah Glucroft – Fotograf und Journalist Gadi Goldberg – Übersetzer Maja Gratzfeld – Bildende Künsterlin Olga Grjasnowa – Schriftstellerin Harri Grünberg – Wissenschaftler Yara Haskiel – Video-Künstlerin Iris Hefets – Authorin und Psychotherapeutin Yaar Hever – Webentwickler Na’aman Hirschfeld – Historiker Sharon Horodi – Künstlerin Sapir Huberman – Künstlerin Dr. Ofri Ilany – Historiker und Journalist Dani Issler – Wissenschaftler Michal Kaiser Livne – Psychoanalytikerin Liad Houssein Kantarovicz – Performance Künstlerin Elad Lapidot – Dozent für Philosophie Angelika Levi – Filmmacherin Ruth Luschnat – Aktivistin Gal Katz – Philosoph Yosi Lampel – Herausgeber Armin Langer – Aktivist und Autor Tamir Lederberg – Künstler Dikla Levinger – Leiterin von Hashomer Haztair in Berlin Ariel Nil Levy – Schauspieler Adi Liraz – Künstlerin, Kuratorin und Aktivistin Gal Liraz – Musiker Gur Liraz – Musiker Sharon Mantel – Künstlerin Naomi Mark – Menschenrechtlerin Lianne Merkur – Doktorandin Dovrat Meron – Performance Künstlerin Inna Michaeli – Sozialwissentschaftlerin Yonatan Miller – Aktivist Anka Mirkin – Künstlerin Etay Naor – Aktivist Hagar Ophir – Künstlerin Dr. Hava Oz – Wissenschaftlerin Deborah S. Phillips – Künstlerin Einat Podjarny – Aktivistin Ella Ponizovsky, Künstlerin und Designerin Ruth Preser – Wissenschaftlerin Udi Raza – Student Prof. Dr. Fanny-Michaela Reisin – ehem. Präsidentin der Internationalen Liga f. Menschenrechte Michael Rothberg – Wissenschaftler Joel Schalit – Autor und Journalist Ella Schechter – Wissenschaftlerin Miriam Schickler – Kulturschaffende Dr. Gal Schkolnick – Wissenschaftlerin Ilona Schwetschuk – Studentin Ruth Sergel – Künstlerin Iris Shahar – Studentin Mati Shemoelof – Dichter und Schriftsteller Gil Shohat – Student Adina Stern – Lektorin und Übersetzerin Yousef Sweid- Schauspieler Hadas Tapouchi – Künstlerin Lola Tseytlin – Ton-Engineer Shlomit Tulgan – Kunstpädagogin Tanya Uri – Künstlerin Eyal Vexler – Kulturschaffende Shira Wachsmann – Künstlerin Prof. Dr.Michael Weinman – Wissenschaftler und Dozent Daphna Westerman- Künstlerin Uri Yacobi Keller – DJ Rotem Yaniv – Veranstalter Yehudit Yinhar – Künstlerin May Zeidani Yufanyi – Soziologin und Aktivistin




 

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