Authorities in the northern German city of Bremen have prohibited a radical pro-Iranian regime group from conducting a public vote on Saturday on whether Israel is an illegal state.
According to a statement from The Feather – the group that mounted the protest against the existence of the Jewish state – municipal authorities in Bremen, “in contrast to actions in Delmenhourst and Hannover, did not permit this time that we show or vote on the slogan ‘Israel is illegal.”
Last year, The Feather conducted public voting on the legitimacy of Israel’s existence in the cities of Delmenhourst and Hannover in the state of Lower Saxony.
The group, which shows a photograph of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on its website, was founded in 2007, and has said they are “supporters of the Islamic Revolution.”
The German-Israel Friendship Society in Bremen – known as DIG – launched a counter-protest against eight activists from The Feather. The DIG praised the Bremen authorities on its webpage for banning the anti-Israel vote and having “learned that continued actions of the organization… under the disguise of free speech, call for the destruction of Israel.”
The Weser-Kurier newspaper reported that 50 people from the DIG along with local politcians demonstrated with Israeli flags in a counter-protest against The Feather. “That is nothing more than agitation and violence,” Widu Wittekdint, the deputy representative of the DIG, said of The Feather’s event.
Bremen’s Social Democratic mayor, Carsten Sieling, participated in the counter-protest against The Feather. He told the Taz newspaper, “To place Israel’s existence in question is almost a civil declaration of war,” adding that the event was no longer a legal question. Kirsten Kappert-Gonther from The Green Party, who is also a member of the DIG executive board, told the newspaper that protest was “the best signal… against antisemitism.” Taz said 60 pro-Israel activists were involved in distributing 350 flyers at the counter-protest.
The Feather’s information stand displayed a large Palestinian flag at their booth.
Bremen has garnered negative publicity over the years for hosting groups that advocate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged Mayor Sieling to crack down on city aid to BDS groups. Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international relations for the Los Angeles-based center, wrote to the mayor in June of 2106: “Our members are most concerned by the inaction of your municipality against a reportedly increasingly violent antisemitic campaign, otherwise known as BDS, reminiscent of the 1930s ‘Kauf nicht bei Juden’ [Do Not Buy From Jews] assaults in Nazi Germany.”
Bremen’s cultural centers – Villa Ichon, which houses cultural and political groups; the Überseemuseum natural history and ethnographic museum; the municipal library; and the Weserterrassen community center – have all provided space to BDS advocates.
The pro-BDS groups – The Bremen Peace Forum, Arbeitskreis-Nahost Bremen, and Nord-Bremer Citizens against War – are embedded in mainstream Bremen society. The Bremer Landesbank provides a banking account to the BDS website nahost-forum in Bremen, which promotes weekly demonstrations across from city hall against Israel’s existence.
Bremen Peace Forum members have marched into stores in Bremen to search for Israeli products and mark them for opprobrium. The group has also staged protests in front of supermarkets urging customers not to buy fruit from Israel.