Europe

After Major German Union Recognizes BDS as Anti-Semitic, Branch Trashes Anti-Israel Article

After Germany’s largest teachers’ union strongly denounced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign as anti-Semitic, a branch of the union trashed copies of its September publication because it contained an article advocating in favor of anti-Israel boycotts, Benjamin Weinthal reported for The Jewish Chronicle on Monday.

The Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) branch, located in the city of Oldenburg, pulped the latest issue of its local magazine for running an article calling for a complete boycott of Israel. It called the publication of the article, which was written by a pro-BDS union member based in Oldenburg, a “big mistake.” It is believed to be the first time since the Holocaust that a German union advocated for a boycott of Jews.

GEW said in a statement on its website that it “rejects a boycott of Israel and antisemitic positions.”

Glanz, who goes by the Twitter handle of Christopher Ben Kush, at one point tweeted that “Israel’s government is a racist freak show.” He is being investigated for possibly violating the terms of his civil service employment, which require him to be politically neutral. He told a newspaper that he was “appalled” by the union’s response, which was conversely praised by German politicians, teachers, and Jewish communal leaders.

Michaela Engelmeier, a parliamentarian from Germany’s main opposition party, wrote on Twitter that she was “pleased that the GEW Oldenburg distanced itself“ from Glanz.

Charlotte Knobloch, the chairwoman of Munich’s Jewish community and a Holocaust survivor, also welcomed the move, saying, “The BDS campaign disguises the socially unacceptable ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’ as a modernised form of Nazi jargon by demanding ‘Don’t buy from the Jewish state.’”

Volker Beck, a Green Party member who chairs the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, said that he hoped that GEW’s Oldenburg branch would follow the national union and “condemn BDS as antisemitic. Everything else would be unacceptable.”

The incident in Oldenburg comes less than a week after GEW declared that BDS is anti-Semitic, as Weinthal reported earlier for The Jerusalem Post.

Following the publication of Glanz’s article, Beck reached out to the national union on Twitter, asking if it would condemn “BDS as an anti-Semitic project.” The union responded, “Of course, the GEW condemns an anti-Semitic campaign like BDS. We are democratic and anti-racist!”

The chairman of Oldenburg’s GEW branch, Heinz Bührmann, distanced his organization from BDS, saying, “Not one member of the Oldenburg GEW district executive board is … racist or anti-Semitic.” He claimed further that his board was unfamiliar with the BDS campaign and blamed the article’s publication on “our lack of knowledge” about BDS.

Lisa Scheremet, a Jewish teacher in Lower Saxony, where Oldenburg is located, wrote in a letter to Bührmann that she thought of cancelling her membership in GEW because “I do not want to finance the active anti-Israel propaganda with my membership dues.”

GEW has an announced membership of almost 281,000. The Israeli embassy told Weinthal that it considered GEW an important institution in Germany and hoped that its magazine would “show better editorial standards” in the future.

[Photo: DIE LINKE Oldenburg / YouTube ]