Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor and city treasurer for Frankfurt, announced on Tuesday that artists who support the boycott campaign targeting the Jewish state are not welcome in Germany’s main municipal financial hub, and festivals and organizations that support BDS face loss of city funds.

“It is important to stress that artists who support the antisemitic BDS movement are not welcome in Frankfurt,” said Becker. He added, “Festivals or organizations risk possible city funds if they provide a platform in Frankfurt to supporters or support BDS.”

Becker, a Christian Democratic Union politician who is widely considered one of the most pro-Israel politicians in Germany, was responding to the re-invitation of the pro-BDS Scottish band Young Fathers by the Ruhrtriennale festival in the city of Bochum last week. Becker said he wants to prevent a similar situation happening in Frankfurt.

 



The Ruhrtriennale’s artistic director, Stefanie Carp, said on June 13: “Regrettably, the Young Fathers have not distanced themselves from BDS. We explicitly do not conclude from this that the band is antisemitic, and, in this context, I consider it important to emphasize that criticism of the policy of the current Israeli government is not per se equivalent to antisemitism.”

She added, “However, the Ruhrtriennale distances itself in all forms from the BDS movement and wishes to have absolutely no connection with the campaign. We have therefore decided to cancel the concert. We regret this immensely, because the Young Fathers would have set an important tone in the program of the Ruhrtriennale.”

Carp reversed her position on June 21. She said, “I wish to invite the Young Fathers again to the concert in Bochum on 18 August 2018, although I do not share their attitude to the BDS. I believe that we need to allow the different perspectives and narratives, because this openness is the dramaturgic credo of our program. I therefore have to defend the freedom of the arts, and do not, under any circumstances, even indirectly, wish to exercise censorship.”

Carp noted, “I again wish to stress that, in my view, criticism of the current policy of the government of the State of Israel is not automatically antisemitic. None of the artists at this year’s program of the Ruhrtriennale are antisemitic or racist. I personally reject boycott in connection with Israel, but also in other contexts, and especially in the field of art. Artists do not represent nations or ideological discourses.” The Young Fathers band is slated to perform in August at the Ruhrtriennale.

Two newly released German intelligence reports equated boycotts of Israel to the Hitler movement’s “Don’t buy from Jews!” campaign.

Becker stressed in his statement that the city of Frankfurt made it clear last year that the city “rejects the antisemitic BDS movement and will act against every form of Israel hatred.” Becker announced this year that banks which enable BDS will be banned from city business. Frankfurt is the center of Germany’s banking sector.

The mayor warned the Cologne-based Bank for Social Economy about enabling the BDS movement by maintaining accounts to groups that spread antisemitism. Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal – the premier Israeli public fund-raising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state – announced in June that its German branch will wind down business with the Bank for Social Economy because the financial institution enables BDS.