TEL AVIV – A municipally funded cultural center in Vienna canceled a series of boycott Israel events on Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Lisa Grösel, spokeswoman for the Amerlinghaus, said the center “decided in consultation with the event organizers to cancel the events,” but added “a discussion about the political situation in Israel is correct and important, and we regret that this was stopped under pressure.”
Martin Ritzmaier, spokesman for Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl, told the Jerusalem Post in February that he was seeking to cancel the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) events scheduled to take place in the Amerlinghaus.
“The city of Vienna rejects boycott calls against the State of Israel, and the BDS-Austria association receives no funding from the city of Vienna,” he said.
Two events organized by BDS-Austria were scheduled to take place in the second week of March as part of anti-Israel “Apartheid Week” activities.
The first, titled, “Dismantle Colonialism and Oppression within the Israeli Apartheid System,” features freelance Israeli translator Ofer Neiman speaking about the Israeli BDS campaign “Boycott from Within.”
The second BDS-Austria event was in collaboration with the group Women in Black in Austria, who planned to show the Israeli documentary film The Law in These Parts. The film purports to address the question: “Can such an occupation be achieved within a legal framework that includes genuine adherence to the principles of the rule of law?” Women in Black in Austria advocates breaking Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, despite the UN declaring that the blockade, intended to prevent Hamas from receiving arms, is legal.
Vienna’s 7,000-strong Jewish community will hold a rally against BDS-Austria events this month in cooperation with a range of groups fighting anti-Semitism. The rally’s slogan is “Against the Anti-Semitic Masquerade of Israeli Apartheid Week” and the campaign’s website is titled, “Boycott Anti-Semitism.”
Organizers of the rally claim that BDS Austria wants to “delegitimize the Jewish state.”
According to Stefan Schaden, a board member of the Austrian-Israeli Society, “BDS has an appalling record of perpetuating old anti-Semitic stereotypes by projecting them on to the Jewish state. Our society therefore supports the broad coalition of civil society organizations that came together to stand up against any form of anti-Semitism.”