Prof. Ilan Pappe
Anti-Zionist historian Prof. Ilan Pappe, one of the most important "New Historians", was scheduled to speak last weekend at the Pedagogical Institute of Munich. But a letter received from the "Israeli-German association of Munich", claiming that Pappe's lecture would turn into "an anti-Israeli propaganda show," led the Munich Municipality to reconsider the event.
The municipality eventually did not let Pappe use the room, claiming its decision was prompted by fears of violent clashes breaking out in the area. The Munich police insisted that there was no danger of fear for the security of those attending the lecture.
The Munich mayor refused to comment on the issue despite appeals from German media outlets. Pappe's associates eventually organized a room not owned by the authorities and the lecture took place as planned.
Controversial historian left Israel after his endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel exposed him and his family to death threats. Now a professor in England, Pappe maintains that a cultural boycott on his homeland is the only way to end the occupation
"We are not seeking to criticize Israel, only to hold an informative-scientists discussion," one of the associates said.
Prof. Pappe wrote an open letter to the mayor, stating that "in the 1930s my father, a German Jew, was silenced in a similar manner, and I am saddened to discover the same censorship in 2009."
Pappe noted in his letter that he had not experienced oppression or such a strong desire to silence his opinion in any other European country. He said that "a handful of people" attempted to frighten the mayor, "people who view themselves as representatives of the Jewish people and the disaster they went through in Europe."
'Words don't kill'
Germany's left-wing party, green party and the ATTAC organization, which is against globalization, came to Pappe's defense and criticized the mayor for giving in to the Jewish organization.
The green party referred to the mayor's move as "an act of political cowardice." The local branch of Die Linke (the left-wing party) said that although sensitivity must be shown in terms of Jewish interests in Germany, "the attempt to defend Israel against criticism by preventing information from reaching people is unthinkable."
Pappe told Ynet about his bad feelings following the incident. "The lecture was held in a different place in Germany, not where it was initially supposed to take place, in a room owned by the municipality. I was surprised by the fact that the municipality was the one to invite me and that a letter sent by some people, and I have no idea if they included Israelis or not, led to a last-minute cancellation," he said.
According to the professor, "It's very strange that a lecture should be prevented due to fear of criticism against Israel. This is the reason, it's obvious to everyone, but why cancel? Words don't kill, but rather open the mind.
"If they wanted, why didn't they bring someone from the embassy to present the opposite stand and contradict my remarks? This hasn't happened to me even in Israel, so it's even peculiar."
Anat Shalev contributed to this report