Vienna hotel intimidated into canceling Israeli Apartheid Week event

A hotel in Vienna has canceled a presentation by a human rights lawyer after intimidation by anti-Palestinian activists.

BDS Austria was due to host Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, a lawyer and consultant for the human rights group Al-Haq, at Arcotel Kaisserwasser this Wednesday, on the topic “Apartheid and its applicability to Israel/Palestine.”

But on Friday, the hotel management canceled its contract with BDS Austria, forcing the group to move the event.

The hotel had received “incessant calls, some by those identifying themselves as representatives of the Jewish community in Austria,” BDS Austria said in a Facebook post.

“These people had issued threats and allegations of anti-Semitism against hotel staff, as well as announcing, without further detail, protest actions and boycott calls against the hotel,” according to BDS Austria. “The hotel management felt threatened by this, to the extent of asking for police protection.”

The hotel confirmed to Austrian media that it had received “unpleasant” calls, but later claimed it had canceled the lecture because it did not think it could accommodate a large public event.

IKG, a representative body of the Vienna Jewish community, told Vienna magazine that it was “absolute nonsense” that the hotel had received threatening calls. However IKG head Raimund Fastenbauer said that anyone who felt intimidated ought to have called the police. IKG did confirm that the hotel had been told that “for us” the event and BDS “have an anti-Semitic background.”

Karmi-Ayyoub’s presentation will be held at an alternative location.

This will be the second time BDS Austria has been forced to relocate events it planned as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2017.

Pressure and threats

The lawyer’s presentation and the 2011 Israeli documentary The Law in these Parts were originally scheduled to be held at WUK, an ostensibly independent cultural space in Vienna.

But earlier this month, The Jerusalem Post revealed that WUK had pulled out.

“The WUK distances itself clearly from ‘Israel Apartheid Week Vienna 2017’ and its organizer, BDS Austria, and there is no place for any form or statement of anti-Semitism,” WUK spokesperson Christine Baumann told the newspaper.

“In the concrete case of BDS Austria, the use of the room was approved because the organizer was mistakenly believed to be for equal rights and against repression and far removed from anti-Semitism,” Baumann added.

That cancellation has all the hallmarks of being engineered by pressure from Israel lobby groups. The writer of the Jerusalem Post article, Benjamin Weinthal, cites the Israeli far-right group NGO Monitor as a source of information supposedly linking the director of Al-Haq to “terrorism.”

Weinthal habitually acts as a mouthpiece for NGO Monitor’s attacks on European institutions that are even mildly critical of Israel.

In 2010, a Jerusalem Post article bearing Weinthal’s byline was the vehicle for an NGO Monitor smear campaign against The Electronic Intifada that included entirely fabricated claims.

Personnel from Al-Haq, which is working with the International Criminal Court in The Hague on its preliminary examination of possible war crimes committed by Israel, have been targeted by threats that are currently being investigated by Dutch police.

Defamation

BDS Austria condemned WUK’s “superficial, indifferent and politically inadequate statement” explaining its cancelation of the Israeli Apartheid Week events.

It added: “It bewilders us that those responsible for the WUK demonstrate the clueless arrogance to defame an international human rights campaign as anti-Semitic in a casual subordinate phrase, and to simultaneously slander its worldwide supporters including people of color and civil rights organizations.”

Last week, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the civil society coalition that leads the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, reaffirmed the movement’s anti-racism principles in response to defamatory smears of anti-Semitism promoted by Israel and repeated by the likes of WUK’s spokesperson.

The BNC affirmed that “the BDS movement does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia or homophobia.”

Campaigners in the UK have held dozens of Israeli Apartheid Week events, despite a government-backed campaign of repression.

Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual series of events across the world to raise awareness about how Israel meets the UN definition of apartheid and to build support for the BDS movement.

Work will go on

BDS Austria also condemned the “elitist arrogance” of Austrian institutions, including the University of Vienna’s student government, that have disregarded calls by Palestinian students in Gaza to support BDS and Israeli Apartheid Week.

Last month, activists with BDS Austria disrupted an appearance at the university by Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli justice minister who in 2014 published a call for genocide of the Palestinians, including the slaughter of mothers who give birth to “little snakes.”

That protest may have put a bigger bullseye on the group, as Weinthal mentions the action in The Jerusalem Post.

But BDS Austria is not deterred. “By all those harsh reactions and threats against hotel workers by the friends of Israeli apartheid, we feel we are on the right path,” the group’s co-founder Marco Van Jura told The Electronic Intifada.

“We will definitely continue our work as BDS Austria for freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people, and not be intimidated,” he said, adding that Salma Karmi-Ayyoub’s presentation would be streamed live on BDS Austria’s Facebook page where “everyone is welcome to join.”

Activists with the group also did flash mobs at WUK and the University of Vienna, challenging censorship and highlighting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians. Watch them in the video at the top of this article.

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Comments

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Zionists are building up a tremendous store of revulsion in civil societies through these campaigns of intimidation. The fact that the mainstream press generally choose not to report the story doesn't mean that the news won't circulate. Many of the people who work at the hotel know of this incident. They discuss the matter at home and in social circles. Those who were preparing to attend communicate their feelings through social media. The ripples can travel throughout the population, and not with the effect sought by the Zionists.

Ordinary people react to such tactics with understandable resentment. And Israel loses another round in the hasbara wars. Because silencing devices go off with a bang, they tend to wake up the neighborhood.

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I am American and have lived in Austria for almost eleven years. There is no doubt about the gravity of the crimes that Germany and Austria combined committed against the Jewish people. However most Austrians, at least when it seems to come to official business like in this case with the hotel in Vienna, there is an obvious failure to draw on the true lesson of the Holocaust. Holocaust like crimes (I know some people, in Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz fashion, will consider me anti-Semitic for saying that there could be any other crime 'like the Holocaust', but they're dead wrong) should be recognized, discussed, and dealt with WHOEVER commits them to WHOMEVER. This means that the sad attempt often seen in Germany and in Austria to pay the Jewish people back for the crimes against them by supporting everything the government of Israel does is misguided, because in fact the Israeli government has been involved for decades in ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people (Ilan Pappe, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine", for starters). The intolerable situation in Gaza is not a secret and its horrid details can easily be discovered, by people NOT trying to avoid the truth about Israeli policies. Everyone has heard that the 'settlements' are illegal under international law (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49). But despite all this, and much more (restrictions of movement for Palestinians in Jerusalem), Israel gets a pass: it's the Holocaust, stupid. But should it? Not if we apply the real lesson of the Holocaust, stated above, repeated here: NO ONE should be able to commit any crime, anywhere on the scale 1-10 (with 10 being Jewish Holocaust, the African Triangular Trade, the crimes of Stalin, ETCETERA) and not be held accountable. This hotel example in Vienna is a good example of how Israel and its Zionist supporters continue to get away with this kind of criminal behavior, just by screaming "Holocaust" or "anti-Semitism".

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It would appear that to fanatical Zionists and their supporters the only form of racism, white (Jewish) supremacy, and ethnocentrism that matters to them is the faux "appearance" of anti-Semitism and to twist and distort it into actual anti-Semitism so that the exchange of free ideas, free speech, free expression, and freedom of assembly can can be suppressed so that the reality of what Israel is now and has always been cannot be heard.
Too, it would also appear that Jewish Zionists can express such contemptible views of other races, religions, ethnic groups, et al without a whimper of a complaint being heard by the MSM, mainstream media. Ms. Ayelet Shaked is a paradigm example. She has called for the murdering of Palestinian mothers so that they cannot give birth to, as you said in your article, "snakes". Ms. Shaked has also stated that the BDS Movement is a, get this, "terrorist organization". Another example of such contemptible views have been expressed by Benjamin Netanyahu, calling Ethiopian and Sudanese refugees a cancer and infiltrators, again without a whimper from the MSM. One can only imagine the outcry if even a scintilla of such views were expressed toward Jewish Zionists.
The late Israeli Minister, Ms. Shulamit Aloni, said in an interview with the American reporter Ms. Amy Goodman a number of years ago that calling someone an anti-Semite, "Is used as a trick to prevent people from criticizing Israel because Jews are not ready to hear the truth about Israel and the attitude is, 'My country right or wrong'".
I am very glad that BDS Austria has found an alternate venue for their presentation.

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Email to the WUK in Vienna Austria

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Alle Achtung fuer Ihre Haltung bzgl. BDS Veranstaltungen.
Die sollen verboten werden weil juedische/israelischer Razzismus und Xenofobie frei Bahn gegeben werden muss. Offenbar ist es Ihnen entgangen, dass sogar die EU, wovon Oesterreich Mitglied ist, davon ueberzeugt ist, dass die BDS Bewegung erlaubt sei als eine Ausserung der Meinungsfreiheit.
Nun verbieten Sie Veranstaltungen von BDS und indem Sie das tun, verletzen Sie ein basales Menschenrecht. Das recht of freie Meinungsausserung.
Sie koennen von vorn herein nicht feststellen, ob die BDS Antisemitismus betreibt. Das laesst sich erst feststellen WAEHREND einer Veranstaltung.
Sollen Veranstalter und/oder Teilnehmer sich waehrend der Veranstaltung nach Ihrer Meinung oder nach der Meinung von nicht an der Veranstaltung teilnehmende Anwesenden, antisemitisch geaussert haben, erst dann sollen diejenenigen die nach Ihrer oder der Meinung Anderer verklagt werden. Achten Sie darauf , dass es noch immer um Meinungen handelt!! Erst der Rechter hat das definitive Sagen und erst nach seinem Befund wird Ihre Meinung eine Tatsache oder wird die im Muelleimer geworfen, weil die Ausserung der BDS Veranstalter offenbar nach Beurteilung des Gerichts kein Vergehen war!!
Indem Sie jetzt BDS Veranstaltungen verbieten, tun Sie eigentlich das gleiche was in den dreissiger Jahre schon stattfand. Damals waren es Einschraenkungen der Meinungsfreiheit von Juden.
Grundsaetzlich machen die Oesterreicher sowie dei Deutschen sich schuldig an zwei Verbrechen. Das erste fand in Oestereich statt, beginnend nach dem Anschluss, bis zu 1945. Das zweie fand ihr Anfang nach 15 Mai 1948 indem die Oesterreicher die Rechten der Palaestinenser verneinen und auch die Moeglichkeit auf Anerkennung ihrer Rechten gezielt entgegen werken.
Sich gegen Israel aussprechen ist kein Antisemitismus.
Ich spreche mich aus gegen allen die die Rechten der Palaestinenser verneinen.

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Sich gegen Israel aussprchen ist kein Antisemitismus.
Ich spreche mich aus gegen allen die die Rechten der Palaestinenser verneinen. Das macht mir kein Raczist.
Viele Israelis haben eine bedenkliche Moral indem sie die Judenvernichtung im zweiten Weltkrieg ausnutzen und missbrauchen fuer ihr politischen Gewinn und ihre finanziellen Position. Nicht wahr? Lesen Sie doch nur: The Exploitation Of The Holocaust von Norman Finkelstein.

Sie lassen es einfach zu, sich erpressen zu lassen, panisch das Sie sind ein Antisemit genannt zu werden. Widerlich

Hochachtungsvoll

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