TEL AVIV – Israel’s embassy in Berlin lambasted the city of Oldenburg teachers union over a call to completely boycott the Jewish state in the first such incident since the Holocaust, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The damning two-page article was published in the September magazine of the Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW).
The paper, entitled “Palestine/Israel: Documenting injustice and call for justice – not possible in Oldenburg?” and authored by anti-Israel activist and teacher Christoph Glanz, outlined the goals of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“The GEW is an important institution in Germany. That is why we are surprised and disappointed, that the Oldenburg chapter chose to republish the pamphlet of a BDS activist in its magazine,” the embassy told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The embassy continued: “The BDS movement is a worldwide campaign that calls for a boycott of Israel on all levels and de facto seeks the elimination of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
“We rely on the moral values and intellectual capabilities of readers of the magazine to correctly classify the pamphlet, but we still expect the magazine to show better editorial standards.”
Alex Feuerherdt, a journalist and expert on contemporary German anti-Semitism, called the incident a “scandal.”
Feuerherdt told the Post that Glanz’s “hostility toward Israel in a labor union newspaper is a scandal. His activity for a boycott of Israel is not an appeal for peace; rather it is for hate. A labor union that shares such views is morally bankrupt.”
Heinz Bührmann, the chairman of GEW-Oldenburg received emails by union members slamming the article.
One member, Raimund Hethey, wrote that Glanz “is allowed to promote, without objection, his anti-Semitic BDS campaign. One should not let the GEW off the hook.”
Rolf Jordan, another GEW member and teacher, wrote that BDS serves to act “against free speech and public discourse. The campaign attempts to destroy academic exchanges, culture events and economic relations. The BDS – also Mr. Glanz – fights against the free exchange of opinion. … I would not have expected that my labor union would allow itself to be pulled into this swamp.”
Bührmann told the Post “that anti-Semitism – whether ancient, classic, modern – will not be tolerated in any GEW institution … where I have influence.”
Glanz’s “promotional activity for BDS does not find our support,” Bührmann said. He added that the union “distances itself from every promotion for, and playing down of, BDS.”
However, his Friday statement on GEW’s website was tempered with no condemnation of boycotts against Israel.
Instead he wrote that “to criticize Israel does not automatically mean criticizing Jews” and added that Israel’s acts in the disputed territories have “repressed minorities who are suffering.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post: “This is a development that needs to be challenged. If people who mold young people buy into an anti-Semitic platform, it poisons the hearts and minds of young students against the Jewish state and Jewish citizens.”
Glanz uses the Jewish-sounding penname Ben Kushka as a way to defend himself against accusations of anti-Semitism, the report said, citing members of Oldenburg’s Jewish community.
Charlotte Knobloch, the chairwoman of the Munich Jewish community and a Holocaust survivor, blasted Glanz. Following a boycott campaign in Munich last November, in which Glanz-as-Kushka took part, Knobloch said: “The BDS campaign disguises the socially unacceptable ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’ as a modernized form of Nazi jargon by demanding ‘Don’t buy from the Jewish state.’”