Connection e.V. Comment on the article in the Jerusalem Post of 15 Feb. 2018
„German bank enables pro-BDS NGO that supports IDF deserters“
(21.02.2018) On 14 February 2018, we received an e-mail inquiry by the journalist Benjamin Weinthal. Mr. Weinthal already denounced BDS activities as antisemitic in a number of articles, and in particular called on banks to block the accounts of groups that, in his opinion, engage in BDS activities. Since the questions he posed to us did not suggest an honest interest, did not relate to our work, he insisted on an immediate reply, and we did not consider ourselves qualified to pass public judgment on the work of others, we did not answer. On 15 February 2018, Benjamin Weinthal published in the Jerusalem Post the article “German bank enables pro-BDS NGO that supports IDF deserters” (...more).
Connection e.V. is an organization that advocates the human right to conscientious objection, that supports conscientious objectors, draft resisters, and deserters – and demands that they be given political asylum, especially if they are coming from theaters of war.
In Israel, young people (men and women) from time to time refuse to serve in an “army of occupation”, as they call it, or for pacifist reasons, and are prosecuted for this. In such cases, as the article correctly states, we work for their release.
In order to out us as “pro-BDS”, the journalist searched through our Web site, and found, among thousands of articles, including hundreds on Israel, a grand total of two that refer to BDS activities. We are not the authors of these articles. We only made them available on our Web site as information.
In the first case, it is a statement by the War Resisters´ International (...more). This organization has been supporting conscientious objectors throughout the world since 1923. We have friendly relations with it. The press release concerned dates from 2010. At that time, international nonviolent activists, including conscientious objectors, tried to break through the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip and provide the population with aid materials, by means of the Free Gaza Flotilla. Israeli naval forces attacked these ships, killing several activists. We considered this a scandal, and accordingly publicized the report of those affected, which was admittedly sharply worded. We can understand that other people, due to these incidents, in such a situation call for a boycott of Israeli products, but do not associate ourselves with this demand.
In the second incriminated article (...more), published by us in February 2017, the BDS activities are described as “wonderful”, according to Mr. Weinthal. That is wrong. In it, a US conscientious objector described nonviolent and anti-war activities in the USA, and mentions the importance of the new media. It is “wonderful”, he says, how quickly initiatives now spread throughout the world because of them. As an example, he gives the BDS campaign.
To clarify our relations to the BDS campaign: Connection e.V. is neither as an organization nor via members of its executive committee or management part of this campaign. Nor do we call on people to join it or promote it. However, we do follow with interest these nonviolent activities also, which seek to get Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, which is, after all, one of the reasons for the conscientious objectors in Israel itself. Despite any criticism of the policies of the Israeli government, for us Israel's right to exist goes without saying.
We already made our position clear in 2002, in the book we published, Gefangen zwischen Terror und Krieg? ["Caught Between Terror and War?"]: "For us, it goes without saying that the Israeli military policies should be criticized just like violence-oriented policies of Palestinian groups. (...) Approaches are needed that question the dominant consensus in both societies, in order to undermine the logic of violence." That continues to be our position.
Connection e.V.: Comment, 21 February 2018