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Berlin Mayor Pledges Crackdown On BDS

(JTA) — Berlin’s mayor will block the use of city venues and funds by groups or event organizers that support the boycott movement against Israel.

The move, announced Wednesday, followed pressure by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had threatened to put Berlin Mayor Michael Müller on its annual list of 10 worst anti-Semitic incidents for his alleged failure to strongly condemn BDS and other extreme anti-Zionist activities in the German capital.

Müller, in a statement co-released with the Central Council of Jews in Germany, asserted that his decision was not a change of heart on his part but rather an intensification of his already pro-Israel stance.

Jewish leaders, including Central Council head Josef Schuster, had rushed to defend the mayor as a staunch supporter of Israel following the Wiesenthal Center’s accusations. But they did say they wished he would be tougher on virulent anti-Zionism, represented by the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement against Israel.

Berlin is now the third German city, after Munich and Frankfurt, to declare plans to stymie such activities.

Müller, who has been supportive of Israel in the past, pledged Wednesday to “continue emphasizing my clear stance for Israel and against anti-Semitism and racism.”

In a statement, the Wiesenthal Center applauded the mayor’s pledge to halt municipal financial and logistical support for the BDS movement. In its annual anti-Semitism tally, the center often equates BDS activity with anti-Semitism.

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