Monday, January 07, 2013

Wiesenthal List Of Top Ten Antisemites Creates Uproar In Germany

In Wiesenthal Center's list of 2012 Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs, featured as #9 is the influential German media personality Jakob Augstein, the owner and editor of Der Freitag Weekly and contributor to Spiegel Online, based, among other things, the following quotes taken from Spiegel Online:
  • “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.”

  • “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, Guenter 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.”
  • “Israel is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in its neighborhood. But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Hareidim. They are not a small splinter group. They make up 10% of the Israeli population.  They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.”

  • “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. Whom does this all this violence benefit? Always the insane and unscrupulous. And this time it’s the US Republicans and Israeli government.”

  • “Gaza is a place out of the end of times….1.7 million people live there on 360 sq. kilometers. Israel incubates its own opponents there.”
In describing Uproar Over 'Anti-Semitic' Spiegel Columnist, Benjamin Weinthal writes that while Augstein responded that he respected the work of the Wiesenthal Center, he also claimed that the fight against antisemitism is weakened when "critical journalism is defamed as racist or anti-Semitic."

And that is where the argument properly belongs -- whether Augstein's statements are actually 'critical journalism" or whether Augstein is peddling antisemitism while hiding the shield of journalism and free press.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, clearly thinks it is the latter.
Speaking on the telephone with the Post from Los Angeles, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, doubled-down in his defense of the list, saying that Augstein had crossed the line of former refusenik Natan Sharanksy’s definition of anti-Semitism.

This is “not about journalism,” Cooper said, and Augstein “should not try to hide behind that he is a journalist. So what? His statements are not defensible.”

According to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky’s oft-quoted “3-D” definition on anti-Semitism, people meet the criteria of modern anti- Semitism when they demonize, delegitimize and apply double-standards to the Jewish state.
Read the whole thing.

A measure of the firestorm generated by the Wiesenthal Center's inclusion of Augstein in its list is the degree of the backlash. One of those in Germany who criticizes Augstein is the popular Jewish author and Die Welt journalist Henryk M. Broder. Now Broder himself is being attacked. Weinthal writes about Dr. Clemens Heni, director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA), who wrote about comments made by Frankfurter Rundschau journalist Christian Bommarius:
"He is in support of Augstein and defames journalist Henryk M. Broder in the most disgusting way possible. He compares the German-Jewish journalist to Nazi language and pornography and to Nazis like Hitler, Goebbels, and Streicher.”
The debate will not quiet down so fast, Weinthal -- who has covered the story closely -- wrote this past Friday that ADL slams German 'Spiegel' author for anti-Semitism:
Ken Jacobson, deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League, on Friday weighed in on the raging German dispute over the alleged anti-Semitism of Der Spiegel columnist Jakob Augstein and his attacks on Jews and Israel.

Augstein’s statement about Jewish control of US foreign policy “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking,“ he told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.

...Jacobson said that Augstein’s quote, in which he equated haredim with Islamist terrorists, “crosses the line into stereotypes of Jews,” but added that “anti-Israel criticism is not necessarily anti- Semitic.”
Read the whole thing.

Weinthal notes that the debate has divided the Jewish community in Germany as well, with Salomon Korn, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, defending Augstein’s writings as not being anti-Semitic and arguing that the Wiesenthal Center should have left Augstein out of its list because it "does not know German relations." Meanwhile, Dr. Alexander Brenner, former head of Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin, criticized Korn as an "alibi Jew" protecting anti-Semites and anti-Israel critics from public criticism.

Apparently the debate resulting from the Wiesenthal list is as important for the Jewish community in Germany as it is for Germany as a whole.

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