SPME on the Jewish Museum in Berlin

SPME on the Jewish Museum in Berlin

The pro-BDS policies of the Jewish Museum in Berlin resulted in the resignation of its director Peter Schaefer. For the first time, the position is now been publicly advertised which gives hope that the appropriate individual will fill the role.

The Jewish Museum in Berlin is not a Jewish institution; it was founded by the German government and the Berlin municipality, with the goal of informing and educating visitors about the 1800 years of German-Jewish history. It was not created to serve as forum for discussion regarding issues pertaining to the Middle East and definitely not as a vehicle of indoctrination against Israel. Unfortunately, however, for the past decade and during the last five years under the leadership of its now outgoing director that has been exactly what the museum has been doing.

For example, the recent exhibition entitled “Welcome to Jerusalem” (2018-19) was a display of anti-Israel propaganda minimizing the importance and Jewish connection to Jerusalem while only underscoring the Arab-Muslim connection. Consequently, the exhibition was heavily criticized by experts, visitors, and even by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but the director defended it repeatedly declaring that Jerusalem is a "place of longing for Jews, Christians and Muslims."

This was followed by a cordial reception of the Iranian cultural attaché hosted by the Museum’s director, ignoring the fact that Iran calls daily for the destruction of the Jewish State. The third and final incident took place when the director openly supported the boycott movement against Israel which the German Parliament defines as an anti-Semitic movement. All of this resulted in the unanimous condemnation of the museum by the General Council of Jews in Germany calling for the removal of the director. Finally, as result of the pressure the director resigned.

While a group of pro-BDS scholars protested against this resignation, we at Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), representing 40,000 academics and friends, support the termination given the damage caused to the Museum at large. As such, we appeal to Prof. Monika Gruetters and the appointment committee to seize this opportunity and re-establish the Jewish Museum of Berlin as a dependable and serious source of information regarding German-Jewish history and culture for which it was created.

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