Op-Ed: Germany Bestows Awards Upon Anti-Israel Inciters
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards...
“There is growing indifference in the Federal Republic toward Jew hatred and attacks on Israel. One of the many indicators of this is the awarding of prizes throughout the last decade by German organizations and politicians to Israel bashers, among them Jews. Some recipients have made statements which are within the definition of run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism.
”In the early 1980’s, Austrian-born Erich Fried was the main anti-Zionist Jewish hero of the German Left. As a Jew, he became an ’insurance policy‘ to shield so-called ‘Israel critics’ from charges of anti-Semitism.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a European Affairs journalist and Fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
He says,“Fried was largely a lone wolf. Descriptions of a few more recent cases illustrate the present situation. Boris Palmer, the Green Party anti-Israel Mayor of Tübingen, along with anti-Zionist Jew Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, coaxed the German government into awarding Felicia Langer the Federal Cross of Merit for her civil and humanitarian work. German President Horst Koehler presented it to her in 2009.
“Langer, an Israeli who became a German citizen, has toured Germany to bash Israel in front of high school audiences. She has compared Israeli military detention centers to concentration camps. Her promoting the equivalence of Israel with Nazi Germany helps alleviate German guilt over the Holocaust. Market demand for her ‘services’ is significant.
“Many German journalists, intellectuals and politicians have anti-Israel leanings. They are check-mated by a climate in which the Holocaust still plays a role. These people have learned to do indirectly what they cannot accomplish directly. They shower hardcore anti-Israel Jews with prizes, feature stories, as well as interviews in major news outlets.
“Yet another example is German-born French Jewish intellectual Alfred Grosser. He has promoted reconciliation between Germans and the French. Frankfurt's then-Christian Democrat Mayor Petra Roth invited this Holocaust survivor to deliver the 2010 Kristallnacht speech in the Paul’s Church. Grosser used his speech to draw parallels between the conduct of the Nazis and Israel. He is no Mideast expert, has no knowledge of Israel's history, nor any interest in Judaism.
"Grosser’s passionately anti-Israel views have come to the fore in his recent body of writings. The Israeli Embassy protested him being chosen as speaker. Predictably, major media and the political class largely lined up behind Grosser. His speech became a combination of rewriting National Socialist Germany’s history and attacking Israel’s history.
“In his book 'From Auschwitz to Jerusalem', Grosser argued that Germany did not criticize Israel enough. Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Germany, Emmanuel Nahshon told me at the time that Frankfurt's decision to award Grosser the honor of speaking on November 9 ‘casts an unfortunate and unnecessary shadow on the event.’
"Nahshon called Grosser's criticism of Israel ‘illegitimate and immoral’ and his ‘extreme opinions are tainted by self-hatred.’
“Roth would later help Judith Butler secure the Adorno award in 2012. She is a Jewish anti-Israel Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Berkeley. Butler told a group of students in 2006 that Hamas and Hizbullah are ‘progressive left-wing’ organizations that belong to the global left. She advocates the abolition of political Zionism.
“Controversial Lutheran Palestinian Reverend Mitri Raheb leads a small church in Bethlehem in the disputed territories. Former German President Roman Herzog decided in early 2012 to present Raheb with the German Media Prize. Herzog said that Raheb’s ‘acts are a symbol of humanity.’
“Israeli diplomats in Berlin told me at the time that Raheb is one of the authors of the Kairos document which calls for a boycott of Israel. It is a racist text that obstructs reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. They regretted that one of its authors received an award in Germany.
“Herzog ignored the protests of the Israeli Embassy, as well as those of German Christian and Jewish organizations. He also refused to answer press queries. This seems to be part and parcel of a trend to criticize Israel from a certain Christian perspective.
“Popular columnist Gunnar Schupelius of the Berlin BZ daily turned out to be a dissenter. This German Christian blasted Raheb's hostility to Jews. He based his column on a meeting with him in Bethlehem several years ago, when the pastor delivered a ‘one-hour tirade against Israel.’ Schupelius wrote that Raheb’s ‘wild look and tone could not be separated from his hate. His words were half-truths, or no truths at all.’
“Schupelius added that Raheb ‘compared Israel's security wall between Israel and West Jordan with the Berlin Wall.’ He did not mention that many children, women and men were murdered in Israel before the wall was built. He also ‘compared Israel with the racist state of South Africa during the time of apartheid.’
“One can add several other examples of German promotion of Israel haters. When there are few counteracting forces to confront Germany’s anti-Israel lobby, and swaths of the population oppose Israel’s existence, this becomes a dangerous situation.”