Munich conference pulled after rejection of speaker sparks antisemitism claims
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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, www.foto-tw.de/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.)
Munich (Wikipedia/ Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de/Creative 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.

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