Enlarge image

Writer Otoo: She is said to have supported an organization attributed to BDS

Photo: Annette Riedl / picture alliance / dpa

The city of Bochum is suspending an originally planned award to the author and Bachmann Prize winner Sharon Dodua Otoo because of possible support for a boycott of Israel. On 10 November, a jury voted in favour of the German-British writer ("Ada's Room") as the next recipient of the Peter Weiss Prize, which is endowed with 15,000 euros. Currently, it has become known that she is said to have supported an organization attributed to BDS, the city announced on Tuesday.

The facts of the case are being examined. If the allegations are true, the awarding of the prize to Otoo would be unthinkable, it said. A statement from the author could not be reached on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for her publisher S. Fischer pointed out that the author was currently in Australia and that she might not be able to react immediately.

Already the second price shift

BDS stands for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions." The campaign calls for a boycott of the State of Israel and Israeli products for its treatment of Palestinians. The Bundestag had condemned the BDS movement in a resolution of 17 May 2019. Their argumentation patterns and methods are anti-Semitic. The state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia had already condemned the campaign as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel in 2018 and called on state institutions and municipalities not to support groups close to it. Many communities, including Bochum, joined in.

Otoo, who lives in Berlin and was awarded the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016, appears by name as one of more than 1500,10 supporters on the website of the "Artists for Palestine UK" campaign. The artists who sign it commit themselves to a cultural boycott of Israel, for example by rejecting professional invitations to the country or the financing of their work by the Israeli government. The blog »Ruhrbarone« had reported on this after the city had announced Otoo as the future award winner on Monday. The award was scheduled to be presented on March <>.

In October, Palestinian author Adania Shibli's award was suspended after criticism of her book "A Minor Matter" and her support for BDS-affiliated author Kamila Shamsie arose.