AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Frank-Walter Steinmeier Holocaust

Skewed views of antisemitism and BDS appear to be on the agenda.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

A Berlin-based cultural institution’s upcoming conference on Holocaust memory appears to be morphing into an event to demonize Israel.

The House of World Cultures (better known by its German acronym HKW) is hosting a four-day conference called “Hijacking Memory: The Holocaust and the New Right,” addressing “right-wing appropriation of Holocaust memory.”

Right-wing Polish lawmakers have passed laws that make it illegal to say Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. Hungarian writer Zsolt Bayer stirred controversy at the recent Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Budapest with antisemitic remarks.

And in the U.S., anti-vaccination and anti-abortion rhetoric often evoke contentious Holocaust metaphors.

But judging from the speakers who will appear at the June 9-12 gathering, there’s a different agenda. One speaker, Avraham Burg, will discuss his 2007 book, “Defeating Hitler,” which argues that the continuing trauma from the Holocaust has made Israeli society violent and fascist.

Another event features a conversation between Peter Beinart and Daniel Cohn-Bendit — a leftist European Jewish media personality and former member of the European Parliament. That talk will focus on the alleged potential for Zionists to be antisemitic.

To remove any doubt, the event is even titled, “Anti-Zionism Can Be Anti-Semitic. Zionism Too.” The event’s website bizarrely states, “In the US the evidence suggests that if you measure antisemitism by traditional criteria, Zionists are probably more likely to hold antisemitic views than anti-Zionists. That’s not surprising.”

Another event will screen the film Boycott, a documentary about about three Americans’ lawsuits against their state governments in response to anti-BDS laws. The 70-minute video was produced by Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha, who has also made films promoting the Palestinian narrative.

The film will be followed by a discussion with Beinart, one of the film’s producers, and a German professor. Beinart is a frequent critic of Israel who wrote a New York Times piece in 2020 titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.”

Another speaker is Tareq Baconi, president of Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank. A pinned tweet at the top of his Twitter feed shows Palestinian women dancing, as Baconi tweets, “One day, maybe in 2022, we will dance on…the ruins of their walls.” In several other tweets, he refers to Israeli “apartheid.”

The HKW, according to its website, “creates a forum for the contemporary arts and critical debates.”