Boycott in Bremen echoes the Nazi era

By Toby Axelrod, March 17, 2011
Follow The JC on Twitter

A call to boycott Israeli products in Bremen, featuring posters with oranges dripping blood, has drawn reactions of disgust and frustration from Jewish leaders in Germany.

Called by the "Bremen Peace Forum" group, the boycott was meant to support a "worldwide appeal" in protest against Israel's West Bank settlement policy, targeting fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as cosmetics marked "made in Israel," to "raise international pressure on Israel." Protesters with gory posters stood outside a supermarket in Bremen on March 11.

Critics charge that the campaign is one-sided and reminiscent of the 1933 Nazi call to boycott Jewish shops. From the outset, boycott organisers had dismissed such comparisons as "absurd" and noted that they had the support of "many Jews throughout the world and Israelis in Israel," including Uri Avnery's "Gush Shalom" movement.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the campaign clearly antisemitic. Julius Schoeps, director of the Moses Mendelssohn Centre in Potsdam, told the Weser Kurier newspaper that the motivation was suspect.

The left-leaning daily, the Taz, called the activists "naive" and "demagogic" for dismissing the similarity to the Nazi boycott.

Criticism of Israel in itself was not the problem, Mr Schoeps, an expert on modern antisemitism, told the Weser Kurier.

But, he said, what bothered him was that "you never hear [peace activists] protesting against Iran, about China's policy on Tibet, you never hear them talk about the policies of Hamas, Hizbollah or other terrorist organisations."

"It's almost like a Pavlovian reflex, They always take to the podium when the subject of Jews and the state of Israel comes up."

    Last updated: 12:32pm, March 17 2011