Munich conference pulled after rejection of speaker sparks antisemitism claims

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Munich conference pulled after rejection of speaker sparks antisemitism claims

Event organiser's rejection of City Councilman Marian Offman, a pro-Israel Jewish speaker, causes anger

Munich (Wikipedia/ Thomas Wolf, Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)
Munich (Wikipedia/ Thomas Wolf, Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)

Organisers of an annual conference in Munich cancelled the event amid accusations of antisemitism stemming from the rejection over a pro-Israel speaker.

At issue was the organisers’ rejection of a guest speaker over his pro-Israel views. City Councilman Marian Offman, who is Jewish, had been appointed by the city of Munich to deliver a greeting from Mayor Dieter Reiter.

The International Munich Peace Conference describes itself as an alternative to the annual Munich Security Conference, which draws world leaders to the capital of the state of Bavaria in February.

Event organiser Thomas Rödl had rejected Offman in part because of the councilman’s opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, which the city of Munich defines as antisemitic.  No city funds or venues may be used for events supporting BDS.

After Offman was rejected as an event speaker, representatives of the Social Democratic Party called on the city to deny use of Munich’s city hall and to cancel any financial subsidies to the conference, the Munich-based Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Ludwig Spaenle, commissioner on antisemitism for the state of Bavaria, described the incident as clearly antisemitic, and Israel’s consul general in Munich, Sandra Simovich, called it an example of Israel-related antisemitism.

In an open letter to Reiter, published Thursday, board members Rödl and Gudrun Haas said they decided to cancel the February event even though their board had agreed to accept Offman as the mayor’s representative.

They cancelled the event, because they “did not have the capacity to plan the peace conference while resolving this dispute in a mutually satisfactory manner.” They rejected charges of antisemitism, “regretted” that their rejection of Offman was taken as an insult, and hoped to prevent further escalation of the situation.

“Given the situation we cannot take responsibility for the security of speakers and participants,” they added.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: