Op-Ed: The Tyranny of Political Correctness
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
“The silent tyranny of political correctness often leads to internal censorship when writing about Israel. This is combined with the German neurosis of being ‘just.’ With regard to Israel, this means that one must be critical of it. Otherwise one might be considered pro-Israel because of German history. In addition, a widespread leftist anti-Zionism prevails among public broadcasters and other media. This ‘anti-Zionism’ is a synonym for Germany’s glossy and ‘trendy’ anti-Semitism.
“The clandestine code of politically correct conduct begins far from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Germany Jews are usually called ‘Jewish co-citizens’ (Jüdische Mitbürger). This expression of ‘co-citizen’ is used only to describe people who don’t really belong to society. One also hears ‘Turkish co-citizens.’ No one ever speaks about ‘Lutheran co-citizens.’”
Daniel Killy is an Executive Editor with BILD, Europe’s largest paper, published by Axel Springer AG. He is a Jewish-German-American publicist and a specialist on Jewish/anti-Semitic media issues.
“Politically correct language mishaps turn into poisoned language. For instance, Palestinian terrorists become ‘activists.’ The 23-year-old Arab Idol winner from Gaza, Muhammad Assaf, was described as a ‘Palestinian refugee’ even though he was born in Gaza. The lyrics of his songs include: ‘Oh you traveler, you make me jealous. Palestine is my beautiful country. Go to Safed and Tiberias. Send my love to Acre and Haifa. Don't forget the Arab Castle, Nazareth. Tell Bissan, its people are coming back.’ And also, ‘Jerusalem, the capital and AlAqsa its center. May Allah unite us with its land.’
The fact that Assaf is eradicating Israel in his lyrics has never been mentioned by any major German media outlet.
“Some broadcasting companies’ editors stand out with their biased views on Israel. The late Patrick Leclercq, a convert to Islam, spewed his hatred on Israel while he was official Mideast-correspondent of Germany’s largest network ARD. There are other correspondents like him. However, one cannot speak of an ‘editorial policy,’ per se.
“In general, as in society, contemporary anti-Semitism in the media is hidden behind criticism of Israel. A study on this bias was conducted by the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee in 2002. It was titled ‘Mideast Reporting on the Second Intifada in German Print Media.’ In 2006, the ‘Media Tenor International’ analysis of the news coverage by Germany's public TV stations ARD and ZDF regarding events in the Middle East was published. It covered the period from 21 July until 3 August 2006, during the Second Lebanon war.
“Its main conclusions were that an anti-Israel perspective prevailed. First, the Israeli army was primarily shown in the context of violent assaults, while Hizbullah fighters hardly appeared at all. Secondly, the victims shown were mostly Lebanese; images of Israeli victims were rare. Furthermore, Israel was usually portrayed as the perpetrator.
“The situation in two of Germany’s leading dailies, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung is similar to that of the public broadcasting companies. There is no anti-Israel editorial policy, yet these papers are safe havens for anti-Israel writers. All vicious attacks are hidden behind a wall of ‘pluralism.’ Whenever one exposes this, one is automatically accused of attacking the ‘freedom of press.’ Thus it becomes hard to fight as one cannot publicly accuse any paper of being openly anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic.
“One can, however, be sure that whenever there are rocket attacks from Gaza, the story only gets reported when there is an Israeli response. It then reads as: ‘Israeli warplanes/rockets attacked targets in the Gaza strip. Gaza has been surrounded and locked down by Israeli forces.’ Usually nothing is written about Jewish victims, only about Gazan casualties, preferably children. So here one once again encounters the poisoned language.
“Axel Springer AG is the only ‘island of resistance’ in these troubled biased media waters of Germany. Their papers have also played a major role in teaching democratic values to the German readership after the Holocaust. When a journalist signs a contract there, he agrees to defend the Trans-Atlantic friendship and work for the reconciliation between Germany and the Jewish people. This naturally has an impact on the tone of the articles on Israel and Jewish topics. Several Jewish journalists work for their papers like Die Welt, Hamburger Abendblatt, Berliner Morgenpost, BZ or BILD.
“A good example of this different approach is the BZ-headline from November 20th, 2012. It read: ‘What if Berlin was Israel?’ It showed a map of Berlin projected into the Gaza rockets’ range in Israel. It was just one example of emotional, anti-biased journalism on Israeli topics.”
Killy concludes: “To put it pessimistically: The beast of German anti-Semitism hasn’t been killed – it has just been sedated. Whenever this government-controlled medication loses its strength, that animal will come back to life. Yet to put it positively: Germany does a lot to make sure it never runs out of this anesthetic.”