NEW YORK — In a letter to the president of Germany, World Jewish Congress Executive Vice President Maram Stern thanked Frank-Walter Steinmeier for calling on the organizers of a high-profile art event to share the German government’s understanding that recognition of the State of Israel is non-negotiable, and that a boycott of Israel is tantamount to denying its right to exist.
The event, documenta fifteen, is held every five years in the German city of Kassel. This year’s curators, the Indonesian group Ruangrupa, allegedly solicited participants who supported a boycott of Israel. Exhibits included a pig labeled “Mossad” and an Orthodox Jew labeled “SS.”
Steinmeier’s statement exhorted the event’s organizers to take responsibility for the action of the curators by serving as mediators for debate on the issues raised in such works. Such debate, however, would not include the question of Israel’s existence: “As Germany’s president I say for my country: Recognizing Israel is the basis and condition for debate here,” Steinmeier said.
Stern praised Steinmeier for the moral clarity and strength of his statement:
“I thank you for your groundbreaking words that a boycott of Israel would be tantamount to a denial of the existence of the Jewish state. You emphasized that the systematic exclusion of ‘independent Jews from Israel’ is a ‘strategy of exclusion and stigmatization’ that ‘cannot be separated from hostility towards Jews.’ …
“Your words will be heard by the Jewish community worldwide, in Germany, Israel and beyond. I trust that the course you have set with this speech will set the tone, not only for Germany and the world of art and culture, but also for the international community.”
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West End Strategy Team