Thomas Wessel, Pastor of the Christuskirche (Church of Christ) in Bochum, has found a solution against BDS: sponsors from Israel.
Christuskirche in Bochum is a church that has partially been transformed into a successful cultural event location, one of the „hot spots“ for concerts in the Ruhr Region. The church hosts dozens of concerts every year, some of which have included Laibach, Peter Murphy, the regular show „Urban Urtyp“, and many others.
This is a challenging task for Pastor Thomas Wessel, who does not want artists who support the BDS movement to perform in his church. BDS is short for „Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions“ – a movement aiming to destroy Israel.
Excluding BDS supporters from the venue meant a lot of research work for Pastor Wessel, who checked every single artist before they performed at his church, trying to find out if they signed one of the antisemitic BDS calls to boycott Israel. This is a question that could not always be easily answered: Brendan Perry for example signed in the name of „Dead Can Dance“. Lisa Gerrard, the other part of „Dead Can Dance“, however, did not sign – Gerrad will be playing at Christuskirche on October 12th.
Pastor Wessel found a better way to make sure that BDS supporters will not perform at his church. Instead of checking each artist, he decided to create a situation that makes it impossible for BDS supporters to perform at Christuskirche without betraying the objectives of the movement: Wessel succeeded to engage several Israeli companies in sponsorships, among them businesses that cooperate with Israeli government institutions. Performing at Christuskirche now automatically means not supporting the objectives of BDS. „I am not interested in preventing artists from performing here. I want to offer my audience an attractive program. Whoever wants to play at Christuskirche must know we have Israeli sponsors. Artists who have concerts here oppose the antisemitic rules of the BDS movement. Artists who cancel their concerts here, will disappoint their supporters, and we will see how they will like that.“
Pastor Wessel hopes that many public and private venues and organizers will follow his example. Germany is one of the biggest music markets in the world. If it is clear that supporting BDS makes it more difficult to gain access to that attractive market, the BDS movement could lose some of its influence among artists. Roger Waters, the biggest supporter of this modern version of the „Don`t buy from Jews“- campaign, will not reimburse artists for losing their fees.