German Journalist Among Top Ten Anti-Semites of 2012
"Judeophobes never call themselves 'anti-Semitic.' They are usually indignant at the very suggestion that they have something against the Jews. Their dream, in the name of human rights, has been to deny to the Jewish people a fundamental human right they would militantly defend for non-white peoples -- above all, the Palestinians -- the right to national self-determination." — from European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself, by the American Jewish Committee
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Holocaust history museum and human rights organization, has placed the German critic of Israel, Jakob Augstein, on a list of top ten anti-Semites in the world.
Augstein, a journalist who owns the left-wing weekly Der Freitag and who writes an opinion column for the German news magazine Der Spiegel, is known in Germany and elsewhere for his anti-Israel tirades.
The decision to include Augstein on the annual list of the worst anti-Semites was meant to draw attention to the growing problem of European journalists whose obsessive criticism of Israel frequently crosses the line into blatant anti-Semitism.
Rather than acknowledge that anti-Semitism often masquerades as anti-Zionism, many German media elites (particularly those on the political Left, who are not accustomed to accountability, especially from American Jews) have defaulted to attacking the messenger.
Most of Augstein's defenders insist that his criticism of Israel does not qualify as anti-Semitism and that the Wiesenthal Center was wrong to place Augstein in the same league as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which tops the list, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who comes in second.
If so, at what point does anti-Zionism become anti-Semitism?
In an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit, the associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitism when it passes the "3-D" test. According to the "3-D" formulation, which was conceived by the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, individuals meet the criteria of modern anti-Semitism when they Demonize, Delegitimize and apply Double-standards to the Jewish state. Augstein, in Cooper's view, clearly meets the "3-D" threshold.
The Wiesenthal Center bases its accusation against Augstein on five quotes, taken from various columns, in which he not only criticizes Israeli foreign policy, but also repeats conspiratorial anti-Semitic falsehoods, and defends an anti-Semitic poem by the German Nobel Prize-winning novelist Günter Grass, who has denounced Israel as a threat to world peace.
In one quote, Augstein employs the anti-Semitic fabrication of a powerful Jewish lobby that ostensibly controls the world. He writes: "With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant."
In another quote, Augstein accuses an "insane and unscrupulous" Israel of fomenting civil violence in many parts of the Middle East. He writes: "The fire burns in Libya, Sudan, Yemen, in countries which are among the poorest on earth. But those who set the fires live elsewhere. Furious young people burn the American, and recently, the German flag. They, too, are victims, just like the dead at Benghazi and Sanaa. Who does this all this violence benefit? Always the insane and unscrupulous. And this time it's the US Republicans and Israeli government."
Augstein also equates ultra-orthodox Jews with Islamist terrorists. He writes: "But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim. ... They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge."
Says Cooper: "When you conjure up the image of Islamic extremists, whose major contribution to the world has been suicide bombings, extremism and hatred, and then you take an entire religious community and you stereotype them, then that has nothing to do with journalism. Thus, a limit is exceeded."
In yet another quote, Augstein writes: "Israel's nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world. This statement has triggered an outcry because it's true. And because it was made by a German, Günter Grass, author and Nobel Prize winner. That is the key point. One must, therefore, thank him for taking it upon himself to speak for us all."
Grass, in his controversial prose poem, "What Must Be Said," engages in moral equivalence by comparing Israel to Iran, even though Israel has never threatened to wipe another country off the map, as has Iran. Grass, who in his youth was a member of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi party's SS paramilitary unit, also says a military action against Iran would lead to the "annihilation" of the Iranian people -- even though it is Iran which has threatened to annihilate the Israel people.
German newspapers have jumped to Augstein's defense and have sought to deflect the blame by pillorying the Wiesenthal Center. As a consequence, the debate in Germany has focused not on Augstein's attacks on Israel, but rather on the Wiesenthal Center's "attack" on Augstein.
In the words of Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who has written extensively about contemporary anti-Semitism in Germany, "the issue now is not anti-Semites but those who criticize the anti-Semites."
According to Augstein's defenders, the Wiesenthal Center is to blame because while compiling its list it sought the advice of Henryk Broder, a well-known Polish-born German essayist who has long sought to hold Augstein accountable for his anti-Israel rants.
Broder, who writes a regular column for the center-right newspaper Die Welt, once wrote: "The only reason why [Augstein] did not make a career with the Gestapo is because he was born after WWII. He certainly would have had what it takes." Broder has also called Augstein a "pure anti-Semite."
Leaping to Augstein's defense, the center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: "The choice of Jakob Augstein for ninth place on the list of the 10 worst anti-Semites is a serious intellectual and strategic error made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Not only has a critical journalist been placed in a group into which he doesn't belong, the nine other people and groups who have justifiably been pilloried can now exculpate themselves by pointing to such arbitrariness."
By contrast, the Berlin-based Die Welt published an editorial, "Augstein's Defenders are Blind in the Left Eye," which says that although the Wiesenthal Center might have gone too far in placing Augstein on its list, Augstein does indeed cross the line into anti-Semitism in his criticism of Israel. Die Welt writes: "He [Augstein] attempts to discredit Israel morally, to hollow out its legitimacy and to make it a pariah among nation-states, just as Jews were a pariah among the peoples of Europe not that long ago."
In an interview with the Berlin-based German Jewish newspaper Die Jüdische Allgemeine, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said that although he was not in total agreement with the Wiesenthal Center's decision to include Augstein on their annual list, he said Augstein has an "Israel obsession" and "spreads anti-Jewish resentments in an irresponsible manner." Graumann added that Augstein's columns are "horrible and undifferentiated" and contribute to an "anti-Israel atmosphere" in Germany.
For its part, the Wiesenthal Center is not backing down. In an interview with the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur, Rabbi Cooper said: "Just because he is a journalist, we are not giving Mr. Augstein license to say what he wants and to hide behind journalistic integrity. His statements are incorrect and baseless."
Speaking to German Radio Deutschlandradio, Cooper says: "Augstein is a major player in German journalism who is accountable to no one. Maybe this is the problem. Augstein does not have to submit his writings to anyone before they are printed."
Not surprisingly, Augstein sees himself as the victim. On his Facebook page he writes: "The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an important, internationally recognized institution. It deserves all my respect for its work on the fight against anti-Semitism. It is all the more distressing when this struggle is weakened. This is necessarily the case when critical journalism is defamed as a racist or anti-Semitic."
A report entitled, "European Anti-Semitism Reinvents Itself," puts things in perspective. Published by the American Jewish Committee, it reads:
Left-leaning Judeophobes, unlike their predecessors of a century ago, never call themselves 'anti-Semitic.' Indeed, they are usually indignant at the very suggestion that they have something against the Jews. Such denials notwithstanding, they are usually obsessed with stigmatizing Israel. The dream of the far left has long been to dissolve the hated 'Zionist entity' and, in the name of human rights, make the world Judenstaatrein [literally, cleansed of a Jewish state]. Thus, they deny to the Jewish people a fundamental human and political right that they would militantly defend for nonwhite peoples -- above all, the Palestinians -- namely, the right to national self-determination. This anti-Zionism of the radical leftist camp, profoundly discriminatory toward Jewish nationalism, has now spread into the mainstream liberal left, whose rhetoric relentlessly seeks to undermine the moral and historic legitimacy of a Jewish state. Liberal leftists portray Israel as a state born of the "original sin" of displacing, expropriating, or expelling an "aboriginal" population.
The report continues:
Not only that, but they attribute to the Jews and Israel qualities of cruelty, brutality, bloodthirstiness, duplicity, greed, and immorality drawn straight from the arsenals of classic anti-Semitism. Such polemics transcend the question of double standards. They go far beyond the long-established media practice of singling out Israel for savage criticism never applied to any other nation-state. Indeed they constitute a clear case of negationism -- denying the humanity of Israelis in order to stigmatize, defame, and morally disintegrate the Jewish state, as a prelude to its physical destruction.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
Reader comments on this item
|German hatred [51 words]||Doudi||Jan 14, 2013 08:00|
|Why Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism [174 words]||Phillip Slepian||Jan 10, 2013 08:01|
|Anti-Semitism turns left [163 words]||Ethan P.||Jan 10, 2013 06:05|
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
The Turkish government "frankly worked" with the al-Nusrah Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, along with other terrorist groups.
The Financial Task Force, an international body setting the standards for combating terrorist financing, ruled that Turkey should remain in its "gray list."
While NATO wishes to reinforce its outreach to democracies such as Australia and Japan, Turkey is trying to forge wider partnerships with the Arab world, Russia, China, Central Asia, China, Africa and -- and with a bunch of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusrah Front.
Being NATO's only Muslim member was fine. Being NATO's only Islamist member ideologically attached to the Muslim Brotherhood is quite another thing.
by Samuel Westrop
British politicians seem to be trapped in an endless debate over how to curb both violent and non-violent extremism within the Muslim community.
A truly useful measure might be to end the provision of state funding and legitimacy to terror-linked extremist charities.
by Soeren Kern
"My son and I love life with the beheaders." — British jihadist Sally Jones.
Mujahidah Bint Usama published pictures of herself on Twitter holding a severed head while wearing a white doctor's jacket; alongside it, the message: "Dream job, a terrorist doc."
British female jihadists are now in charge of guarding as many as 3,000 non-Muslim Iraqi women and girls held captive as sex slaves.
"The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS laws in the region. I believe that's why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force." — British terrorism analyst Melanie Smith.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.
Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.