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Backlash after Goethe Institute disinvites Mohammad El-Kurd

A scaled-down version of the planned event took place after speakers withdrew in protest.

Jerusalem24 – German state-run cultural organization the Goethe Institute disinvited Palestinian poet and writer Mohammad El-Kurd from speaking at an event in its Hamburg branch in Germany.

A scaled-down event went ahead between 23 and 26 June after several participants withdrew in protest. The event focused on “the impact of far-right movements and their global entanglements.”

In a statement published on Twitter, Goethe announced the cancellation of Kurd’s appearance due to “comments about Israel.”

In the tweet, Goethe stated, “After some consideration, the Goethe-Institut decided that Mohammed El-Kurd was not an appropriate speaker for this forum: in previous posts on social media, he had made several comments about Israel in a way the Goethe-Institut does not find acceptable.”

As a result of Goethe’s decision, the two curators behind the panel that planned to host El-Kurd, Moshtari Hilal and Sinthujan Varatharajah, withdrew from the forum, as well as British-Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif and American writer Ijeoma Oluo.

The cancellation of El-Kurd prompted many responses, mostly anger directed at the Goethe Institut. Its branch in Ramallah was no exception, facing public anger and threats of boycott, prompting the organization to publish a statement on its Facebook page:

“There were many reactions to the mismanagement of the panel discussion organized by the Goethe-Institut in Germany. We strongly reject the accusation of anti-Palestinian racism. We support an open dialogue and are committed to offer an inclusive space for debates and enriching multicultural encounters. This is what we want to achieve with all of you, our partners and public here in Ramallah. Have an open and direct exchange with us! Our doors are and will remain open for anyone who is willing to discuss on a constructive and respectful level.”

When approached by Jerusalem24 for the chance to explain the incident on our program, Goethe declined the offer.

Palestinians and activists for Palestinian freedom face increasing difficulties in Germany where a pro-Palestinian stance is often portrayed as anti-semitic.

Last year, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle dismissed several Palestinian employees from its organization following a smear campaign.

Earlier in May this year, German police prevented any vigils for the slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. They later attacked demonstrations marking the Palestinian Nakba, injuring Majed Abu Salama’s arm while physically assaulting him.

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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