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Director of Berlin Jewish Museum Quits after Controversial BDS Tweet



Director Peter Schäfer in front of the Jewish Museum Berlin's Libeskind Building. Photo Credit: Jewish Museum in Berlin

The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum resigned on Friday after controversially tweeting a link to an article that criticized the German parliament for passing legislation against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Professor Peter Schaefer “today proposed his resignation to the chairman of the board of the foundation and Culture Minister Monika Grutters to avoid further harm to the Jewish Museum Berlin,” a statement quoted by AFP said.

Earlier this week, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, slammed the museum over an official tweet sent June 6 by the museum encouraging followers to read an article in the left-wing daily newspaper Taz about a petition in which 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars criticized the nonbinding, nonpartisan May 17 measure. The museum posted a link to the story.

“The Jewish Museum Berlin seems to be completely out of control. Under these conditions, one has to wonder whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate,” wrote Schuster.

The Berlin Jewish Museum later denied that it opposed the Bundestag resolution, saying it merely wanted to call attention to the discussion and “has in no way positioned itself against the resolution of the Bundestag.”

The resolution passed last month calls on the German government to refrain from any support to organizations that are involved in boycott activities against Israel.

According to the resolution “The arguments and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic”. It also states that the actions are a reminiscent of Germany’s Nazi past.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has welcomed the resignation of Peter Schäfer, director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum.

“We do not need leaders of Jewish institutions who identify with or support the BDS movement,” Ambassador Lauder said. “I have been deeply involved with museum culture throughout my life, both in the Jewish world and beyond, and it pained me deeply to see the Jewish Museum of Berlin step outside of its mandate repeatedly to weigh in on this matter in such a callous way. There is absolutely no place for such politics in museums, especially not those committed to providing a platform for Jewish history and unity in the face of the adversity the community has faced for so long. I welcome Schäfer’s long overdue departure from the scene and hope that the Berlin Jewish Museum, a great institution, will choose a more appropriate leadership.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.


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