The president of Germany’s nearly 100,000-member Jewish community called on the Bank for Social Economy, in an unusual direct and angry statement, on Tuesday to pull the plug on its account with the pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group Jewish Voice.
“It is overdue that the Bank for Social Economy finally take the consequences and close the account of the Jewish Voice,” Dr. Josef Schuster said. “For months now, the bank’s executive board has beat around the bush about this issue.”
Jewish Voice supports the BDS campaign against Israel.
Schuster, whose statements were first reported by the German Jewish weekly Jüdische Allgemeine, said the bank needs to take a clear position and not hide behind reports.
“There can be no compromise on antisemitism,” he said. “Determination is needed here.”
The Bank for Social Economy’s chief executive Harald Schmitz has hired, according to critics, a controversial academic, Juliane Wetzel, to issue a report on whether the organization, Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, is antisemitic.
Schuster said the direction of the “BDS movement is undoubtedly antisemitic.” He added if one works with BDS, then one is more likely to adopt their political attitude. Schuster praised the city of Bonn for deleting a pro-BDS event advertisement from its website that was supported by the Jewish Voice. The city apologized for posting the notice.
Jewish Voice has compared Israel’s political leadership to that of Adolf Hitler. A member of the group, Iris Hefets, held a sign at an anti-Israel rally declaring: “Führer of Israel to the international court.”
Henryk Broder, Germany’s leading expert on contemporary antisemitism in the federal republic, said the tiny group of Jewish Voice members are a “bunch of antisemites.”
“Apparently most Germans understand that calls to boycott Jews is antisemitism and that the BDS movement’s goal is the end of the Jewish state of Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in response to Schuster’s comments and the bank’s statement that providing an account to Jewish Voice is an example of different views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Oldest trick in the book: hide behind ‘free speech’ when BDS doesn’t attempt to hide it has never helped a single Palestinian and is only there to demonize Israel.”
The Jerusalem Post first exposed the account of the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice held by the Bank for Social Economy in 2016.