Germany cancels anti-Israel propaganda exhibit

Breaking the Silence propaganda exhibit featuring testimonies of anonymous IDF soldiers alleging human right violations was cancelled for it’s irrelevance to the 50th anniversary of German-Israeli relations.

By Polina Garae


Israel succeeded in its efforts to cancel a controversial Breaking the Silence exhibition planned to be held in Cologne as part of the official events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli-German diplomatic relations.

Breaking the Silence exhibition in Zurich – Photo: AFP

The Israeli embassy in Berlin, which coordinates the events held across Germany, was surprised to learn that Cologne municipality had included in its program an exhibit of photos and testimonies of Israeli soldiers alleging human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza. Alongside it, several discussions were planned, devoted to representing the Palestinian viewpoint, according to the embassy.

The events were organized under the initiative of Cologne-based pro-Palestinian activists, but displayed the official German-Israeli logo designed for the anniversary’s celebrations. “They have found an opening under the umbrella of the official German-Israeli events,” the embassy’s spokeswoman Adi Farjon Israel told i24news. “These events concentrate on the Palestinians and not on the German-Israeli relations, and therefore should not be held at this time under this logo. It was being misused.”

The embassy quickly addressed the German Foreign Ministry, demanding its involvement, and sent a harsh letter of complaint to the municipality, calling for the cancellation of the “anti-Israel” exhibit and for rescheduling of the planned “irrelevant” debates. The diplomatic pressure, issuing from several other bodies, forced Cologne officials to comply with the request: Breaking the Silence activists were turned away and the discussions will be held at a later date.

The city is still planing to have, as part of the festive events a conference titled “The German image of Israel in transition – continuities and breaking points,” which will open Friday; in August it will host a teachers seminar on the subject of “Judaism and Israel as an object of historical and political education.”

“Our actions proved themselves and we were able to bring about the cancellation of the exhibit,” added the Head of Public Diplomacy at the embassy, Rogel Rachman. “We did so with the help of several bodies which expressed their dissatisfaction of having such an even in this special year. The embassy is marking the jubilee anniversary of German-Israeli relations with an array of events across the country and it’s important not to allow unconnected events to be added to them.”

Breaking the Silence, which Israel’s former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman labelled “terror supporters,” has already held a similar exhibit in Berlin in 2012, sponsored by the German Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Most recently the organization caused a turmoil by holding a similar exhibition in Zurich. Israel, in response, urged the Swiss government to stop funding the exhibit, claiming it slanders Israeli soldiers, yet Swiss officials declined to comply citing freedom of speech.


Polina Garaev is i24news’ correspondent in Germany

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