Emmanuel Thomas, Friday, May 26, 2023
FRANKFURT – Leading Jewish celebrities in the German-speaking world and beyond publicly backed German Culture Minister Claudia Roth on Friday, after her speech to a Jewish event in Frankfurt a week ago was interrupted with boos.
“Claudia Roth’s political biography unmistakably proclaims her lifelong commitment to opposing anti-Semitism and racism,” a letter entitled “Not in our Name” seen by dpa and signed by 50 leading Jews says.
Invited to speak at the “Jewrovision” contest on May 19, Roth was shouted down by people in the audience showing anger at her role in a controversy over anti-Semitism at the Documenta modern art show in the German city of Kassel last year.
“Protest is one thing, shouting down a speech from an invited guest is another,” Friday’s letter said.
The signatories include musician Daniel Barenboim and prominent French politician and former radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a fluent German speaker.
Roth and others were criticized last year after an art work was taken down due to concerns about anti-Semitism at the art show, and others were criticized.
The Culture Ministry partly financed the art fair and Roth was accused of having ignored previous warnings of anti-Semitic tendencies on the part of the Indonesian curatorial group Ruangrupa, who organized the exhibition.
Ruangrupa curated documenta fifteen and extended invitations to other groups to join with their projects, asking them to invite further artists and collectives.
The show was overshadowed by accusations that it included art with clear anti-Semitic symbols and motifs. Ruangrupa also faced accusations of anti-Semitism over the inclusion of artists and groups that support a cultural boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.