Was the documenta scandal foreseeable?

In an anonymous blog entry in January, the “Bündnis gegen Antisemitismus Kassel” pointed out that some members of the documenta organization team were close to the BDS movement. BDS stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”, i.e. boycott, withdrawal of investments and sanctions against Israel. The campaign was launched by Palestinian organizations in 2005 and has supporters around the world, including Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters. Because of his statements about Israel, ARD decided in 2017 not to broadcast two of Rogers’ concerts in Germany as planned.

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Die Grünen): “I think the BDS movement is wrong and I don’t support it in any way”. (Source: Oliver Berg/dpa images)

documenta scandal puts Claudia Roth in distress

Although “Ruangrupa” called the anonymous allegations by the “Alliance against Anti-Semitism Kassel” lamentable and spoke of “amateur Internet research”, it nevertheless announced a panel discussion in Kassel, which would also deal with anti-Semitism. After criticism of the composition of the event from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the event planned for May 8 was postponed indefinitely, as reported by “Bayerischer Rundfunk”. A missed opportunity to prevent the scandal?

Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth also has to put up with this accusation. Only a week and a half ago, the Greens politician refused to intervene at the documenta: “I think the BDS movement is wrong and I don’t support it in any way,” Roth told the “Spiegel”. “However, I find it difficult if the suspicion or assumption of BDS proximity leads to a reverse culture boycott, events should therefore no longer take place, that people are uninvited.”

Roth has since spoken out in favor of removing the banner from the documenta. According to Roth, the work clearly has anti-Semitic pictorial elements. The mere disguise and the explanation of “Taring Padi” to it are unacceptable. In addition, it must be clarified how the installation of this picture could have come about in the first place. Those responsible must continue to ensure that no other “clearly anti-Semitic pictorial elements” are shown at the exhibition in Kassel. On Tuesday afternoon, Kassel’s Mayor Christian Geselle (SPD) finally announced that the banner would be removed.

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