Criticism of BDS discussion with Moshe Zuckermann
MTo call oshe Zuckermann controversial is an understatement. The sociologist, son of Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors and supporter of critical theory, regularly offends people with his polemics against Israel and against German “anti-Semites”, who defend the Jewish state against criticism. Above all, the Jewish scientist attacks the Israeli settlement policy. Zuckermann repeatedly claims that there is apartheid towards non-Jews in Israel. Many consider this opinion to be unfounded – and quite a few even anti-Semitic themselves.
The fact that Zuckermann regularly defends the pro-Palestinian BDS movement also causes trouble. The acronym stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS fights for an economic boycott against the Jewish state and, for example, puts pressure on musicians who perform in Israel or artists who exhibit their works in Israeli museums.
BDS lawsuit successful in court
At rallies of the BDS movement, which is primarily characterized by left-wing activists, calls have often been made to create a Palestine that reaches “from the river to the sea”. What is meant is an area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea – de facto that would mean the end of Israel. But Zuckermann argues like a mantra as soon as the BDS movement is labeled anti-Semitic.
On Thursday, Moshe Zuckermann will appear in Frankfurt, in a hall in the Südbahnhof that belongs to the municipal Saalbau Betriebsgesellschaft – although Frankfurt does not actually want to rent any rooms to organizers who are close to the BDS. In 2017, the city parliament passed a corresponding, so-called BDS resolution: enemies of Israel should not receive any financial grants or rooms from the city.
However, a judgment by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig now practically overrides this decision. A BDS supporter had sued the city of Munich, which had made a decision similar to that of Frankfurt, because they did not want to rent out event rooms to him. He failed his lawsuit before the Munich administrative court, but the higher court in Leipzig agreed with him: A blanket ban on BDS events violates freedom of expression, the judges ruled. The Frankfurter Saalbau Betriebsgesellschaft therefore announced that it would again rent out to organizers from the BDS environment.
Antisemitism in art, culture and science
The discussion with Moshe Zuckermann is entitled “Apartheid in Israel too – not just in the occupied territories?”. It is organized by the “Working Group Near East Bremen”, the Palestinian Community of Hesse and the Frankfurt Palestine Forum. The Frankfurt branch of Amnesty International is also promoting the event, but has toned down the provocative title in its announcement. The Amnesty website no longer speaks of “apartheid” but of “ethnic discrimination”.
The event was sharply criticized by the Frankfurt Jewish Community and by Uwe Becker, the Hessian anti-Semitism commissioner. In connection with Zuckermann’s planned lecture, the CDU politician complained that “Israel-related anti-Semitism was socially acceptable”. In “to a large extent, especially in art, culture and science,” anti-Semitism is being tolerated more and more frequently, Becker warned. Recently, for example, a discussion about the Kassel “Documenta” flared up because artists who had previously attracted attention with anti-Semitic statements had been invited to the art exhibition.
The organizers of the evening with Zuckermann, on the other hand, say they want to “objectify” the debate. However, it is difficult to determine whether they are really serious about it, whether they actually want to talk to critics of their point of view or whether they prefer to keep to themselves. Only those who register in advance by e-mail for the Zuckermann lecture in the Südbahnhof may attend the event. A request from the FAZ editorial team to take part has not yet been answered.