Thursday, May 19, 2016

Germany: politicians call for inquiry into anti-Semitic BDS hub

Via Jerusalem Post:
A widening anti-Semitism scandal involving the Protestant Church and a network of NGOs in the city of Bremen that call for a boycott of Israel prompted the Green Party to launch an investigation, at the same time saying the employment of a pastor who declared himself a Jew-hater appears to be untenable.

“As the Green faction, we are preparing a parliamentary inquiry that will deal with anti-Semitic tendencies in Bremen,” Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, the deputy head of the Green Party in the city government, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email last week.

After the Protestant Pastor Volker Keller boasted in an email to the Post that he is an anti-Semite – and the leadership of the Bremen Jewish community announced its refusal to work with Keller – Kappert-Gonther told the Post on Wednesday that “mutual trust, in the meantime, is so disturbed that I find it difficult to imagine that good cooperation in the Council for Integration is still possible.”

Keller serves on Bremen’s Council for Integration and plays a role in the absorption of migrants from Muslim-majority countries. He is the Church’s representative on the council for dialogue with religious communities, including the nearly 1,000-member Jewish community. Kappert-Gonther’s rebuke of Keller comes ahead of a Thursday meeting between the Church and the Jewish community leadership to discuss, according to the community’s letter of protest, Keller’s openly anti-Semitic behavior and language.

Keller claims his email embracing anti-Semitism was sarcasm. He refused multiple interview requests from the Post on Wednesday. The Post obtained a 2013 circular email from Keller in which he slammed Israel’s security barrier and ignored Palestinian terrorism.

Sabine Hatscher, a spokeswoman for the Bremen Protestant Church, told the Post on Wednesday the Church “has always expressly rejected the boycott calls of the Bremen Peace Forum.” Hatscher said it was not Keller’s “intention to play down anti-Semitism.”

She said that Keller has at no time behaved in an anti-Semitic way and dropped out of his NGO Nordbremer Citizens against War because of the calls to boycott Israel. The anti-Israel Nordbremer Citizens against War has stoked BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against Israel since at least 2011.

However, according to media reports and demonstration announcements as late as 2016, Keller serves as a spokesman for the group and participates in its events.

When asked for documentation about Keller’s resignation from his anti-Israel group, Hatscher did not respond.

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