Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quits after tweet linked to pro-BDS story
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Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quits after tweet linked to pro-BDS story

Head of German Jewish community says institution seems ‘out of control’; museum says it was just highlighting an issue

In this file photo taken on August 21, 2014, then-Director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin Peter Schaefer poses outside the Jewish Museum in Berlin. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa/AFP) )
In this file photo taken on August 21, 2014, then-Director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin Peter Schaefer poses outside the Jewish Museum in Berlin. (Wolfgang Kumm/dpa/AFP) )

BERLIN  — The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum said Friday that he is stepping down following strong criticism of the museum’s leadership by Germany’s Jewish community.

A statement said director Peter Schaefer was resigning to prevent further damage to the museum. There was no immediate word on a long-term successor ahead of a board meeting set for next week.

Schaefer “today proposed his resignation to the chairman of the board of the foundation and Culture Minister Monika Grutters to avoid further harm to the Jewish Museum Berlin,” the statement said.

The resignation comes following an official tweet sent June 6 by the museum encouraging followers to read an article in the left-wing daily newspaper Taz about a petition in which 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars criticized a May 17 Bundestag resolution labeling the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel as anti-Semitic.

The tweet tagged the article as “#mustread.”

Facing a storm of criticism the museum, which has come under fire for welcoming anti-Zionists such as scholar Judith Butler and representatives of the Iranian regime, tweeted on June 9 that it merely wanted to call attention to the discussion and “has in no way positioned itself against the resolution of the Bundestag.”

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster speaks during a ceremony at the Synagogue Rykestrasse in Berlin on November 9, 2018 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht Nazi pogrom. (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

On Tuesday, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, slammed the museum for what he called “the last straw.”

“The Jewish Museum Berlin seems to be completely out of control. Under these conditions, one has to wonder whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate,” he wrote.

The Bundestag in its resolution described BDS’ “patterns of argumentation and methods” as anti-Semitic, including disputing Israel’s right to exist.

The nonbinding, nonpartisan resolution bars the BDS movement — and any group deemed anti-Semitic — from receiving federal funds and using public space.

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