HRS International

Propagating feel-good anti-Semitism

In short: a German paper is propagating feel-good anti-Semitism, mocking Auschwitz, slapping Holocaust victims in the face – and seeking the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

Introduction by Bruce Bawer :In this essay, the German political scientist Clemens Heni provides us with a glimpse of the rising hostility toward Jews in today’s German media. His particular focus is on Die Tageszeitung, a leading German newspaper which in March broke a longstanding taboo by publishing (in Heni’s words) “one of the most anti-Semitic articles to appear in Germany since National Socialism came to an end.” Currently based in Berlin, Heni received his Ph.D. at the University of Innsbruck, did postdoctoral work at Yale on the subject of anti-Semitism, and was a Felix Posen Fellow at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at Hebrew University in 2003 and 2004. He has published two books on Germany and anti-Semitism.

By Clemens Heni, for HRS

The Federal Agency for Civic Education recently linked to an article in the TAZ [Die Tageszeitung] by Iris Hefets, a board member of an association called European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP), or, as I would put it, «The Gentlest Voices for Applied Israel-Hate.” Plainly, the agency considered the article praiseworthy.

That article appeared on March 9, 2010, and was one of the most anti-Semitic articles to appear in Germany since National Socialism came to an end on May 8, 1945. The article did not deny the Holocaust, and the newspaper deliberately chose a Jewish woman writer, Iris Hefets, for the job. Herein lies the potential for one of the trendiest, hippest, most monstrous forms of anti-Semitism – a species of Jew-hatred that is far more promising than any Jew-baiting carried out by former SS men in the 1950s and 60s.

The TAZ, a green-left mainstream newspaper published in Berlin, is known for its resentment of Israel and America. Until March 9, a pornographic, obscene ridicule of Auschwitz could be found only in neo-Nazi, far-right or right-wing media. No more. On March 9, the TAZ permitted a self-hating ex-Israeli writer author to write the following:

The incorporation of the Hebrew word Shoah into German also incorporates into German society the Israeli interpretation of the event. In Israel, this is a kind of national narrative and a pillar of the state, with which every Jewish child must identify, even if his parents originally came from Yemen or India. School trips to Auschwitz, which once were conducted only by elite Israeli schools, have now become an integral part of every Israeli’s post-pubertal biography. Before a young Israeli joins the army, he must have experienced on at least one occasion booze, sex, and an Auschwitz tour. If these conditions are fulfilled, he can carry out his military service, and later flip out in India.

The author, with her pathological vengefulness toward Israel, knows very well how much anti-Jewish tirades matter to Jews and gentiles. They make Zionist Jews open targets and set anti-Semitism loose.

The TAZ and its Jewish author Iris Hefets call “Auschwitz” a destination for a “pilgrimage,” and the “Holocaust” “sacred.”

One can only imagine how much the TAZ text would have warmed the heart of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the friend of the Muslim Brotherhood and grandfather of the online Islamist Jihad, who lives in Qatar and who in January 2009 called for the mass murder of Jews and Israelis – indeed, for the extermination of every last Jew (!). German Middle East scholars such as Gudrun Krämer or Bettina Gräf pat al-Qaradawi on the head and call him a «global mufti.” The propaganda of anti-Zionists in the West should, in fact, be viewed against the background of the calls for Jew-killing such as the one served up by al-Qaradawi on January 9, 2009.

The TAZ author is saying that Israeli Jews from Yemen or India have no interest in remembering the Holocaust, supposedly because they were not targets of the Nazi Jew-hunters. Obviously the TAZ has no idea (or is quite simply lying about the fact) that the German Nazis wanted to kill all the Jews, including Jews from Yemen or India, that they could find. The madness of anti-Semitism, which distinguishes it from all other instances of persecution and murder in human history, is that it embraced the murder of an entire people. It was not limited mass murder, as in Rwanda, or as in the killings of the Armenians and the killings in Darfur in Sudan, as inconceivably awful as the murders in those places were and are. It is the genocidal nature of anti-Semitism that sets it apart.

The TAZ article is almost an expression of hatred for Auschwitz, because Auschwitz was a crime against humanity and the perpetrators were Germans and the victims were Jews. A defensive rejection of memory and a hatred of Israel go hand in hand.

The social scientist Sabine Schiffer, like Iris Hefets, admires Hajo G. Meyer’s book Das Ende des Judentums (The End of Judaism) and is especially enthusiastic about Meyer’s likening of National Socialism to Israel, which explains her March 21, 2010, reunion in Erlangen with Prof. Wolfgang Benz, director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at the Technical University of Berlin. Benz invited Schiffer to his December 2008 conference at the ZfA, where the center likened anti-Semitism of the sort that could be found in the late 19th century with today’s “Islamophobia.”

Since January 2010 Benz has been in trouble, because I revealed that he had written his PhD in 1968 under the auspices of former Nazi Karl Bosl, a member since 1933 of the NSDAP and SA as well as of several other Nazi organizations. In 1983 and 1988, Benz even offered birthday wishes to his supervisor Karl Bosl (1908-1993), who from 1938-1942 was in the pay of the SS, and to this day the Nazi Bosl has not been publicly condemned. In Erlangen in March 2010, Benz was asked publicly whether he would now at least dissociate himself from Bosl. According to the website, Benz reacted indignantly and aggressively, insisting that Bosl was not a Nazi, but rather a «highly respected liberal scholar.” Benz’s denial that Bosl was an active Nazi runs contrary to evidence that is already on the table and flies in the face of the criticism and skepticism in regard to Bosl’s history that have been expressed for more than a decade by such colleagues as Prof. Adelheid of Saldern and Prof. Bernd A. Rusinek. Scholarly research on National Socialism seems to ignore Prof. Benz. Most recently, German-Jewish Professor at the University of Frankfurt and former head of the Fritz-Bauer Institute, Micha Brumlik, wrote a column in the TAZ urging Benz to condemn his Nazi PhD supervisor. Benz did not. His position as the supposedly forthright leader of the Centre for Research on Antisemitism is hence no longer sustainable.

As Benz’s colleague Sabine Schiffer plays with the «End of the Jews,» so Hefets, the TAZ, and the far-right Junge Freiheit play at Auschwitz-hatred. This hatred comes across very clearly in a January 2007 article in Junge Freiheit, which takes on the historian Prof. Dan Diner and the fear that the memory of Auschwitz, that «rupture of civilization,” will disappear. The title and subtitle of this piece of modern-day German propaganda speak for themselves: “High Priest of the Religion of the Holocaust: Jerusalem Historian Dan Diner and his Attempts to Render Impossible the Humanization of the Murder of the Jews, and to Spread Belief in and a Willingness to Sacrifice for the Civil Religion of the Holocaust.” A contributor to the Catholic Internet portal wrote in a similar vein in 2006: “For a Christian it is of course not possible to believe in the civil religion of the Holocaust, or even to sacrifice for it.” The TAZ says, “Pilgrimage to Auschwitz. Holocaust remembrance has become a kind of religion.»

The TAZ text is nevertheless breaking a taboo of making fun of Auschwitz in mainstream media. It pretends to be hyper-critical of Nazis, Jew-haters, and Christian anti-Semites, since it was written by a Jew, and it insinuates that it is enlightening, in that it flogs religious criticism for representing the Shoah not as a crime but as a myth or a shrine. The mainstream author Martin Walser will contemplate with envy this final elegant twist on the part of the TAZ.

It should be mentioned that the Switzerland-based Israeli journalist Shraga Elam, born in 1947, explained in a 2002 anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic comparison of Israel with the Nazis that there is a «Holocaust religion» that prevents the criticism of Israel.

The TAZ, then, has not invented such anti-Semitic fantasies – but as of March 9, 2010, it has made them a more prominent feature of the mainstream media. The TAZ shows quite explicitly what lies at the core of the so-called «criticism of Israel» today: pure anti-Semitism, as primitive as anything you could find in Junge Freiheit.

A few years ago, Professor Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University wrote a pamphlet about «progressive Jews» and the «new anti-Semitism». In it, he noted:

[Jacqueline] Rose typifies one of the most distressing features of the new anti-

Semitism—namely, the participation of Jews alongside it, especially in its anti-Zionist expression. Her book is a disturbingly revealing example of this tendency. More an indictment than an examination of its subject, The Question of Zion, dedicated “to the memory of Edward Said,” is fashioned as a companion piece to Said’s The Question

of Palestine….

Prof. [Michael] Neumann not only believes, but also advises, «we should never take anti-Semitism seriously, so maybe we should have our fun with it.» Like many other Jews, one might ask, are with him, strive for such a joke? In fact, there are a lot of like-minded as anyone who looks in the Internet «Jews against Israel» will be seen. Hundreds of entries appear here that sound like Neumann, and many represent one of the most aggressive anti-Semitism shape.»

Countless examples of the contribution of Jews to the new anti-Semitism that Rosenfeld criticizes can be found in Germany. The TAZ has now provided the latest example of this phenomenon. But only a sick mind, possessed by a resentment of the truth, could call Auschwitz «holy.” This is so absurd, deceitful, stupid, and wrong that not even the opposite of it promises a breath of knowledge.

This is the new anti-Semitism.

The TAZ has published probably the worst legal anti-Semitic articles since National Socialism in Germany came to an end. Yesterday Holocaust denial was the business of the former mass murderers of the SS, the SD [‘Sicherheitsdienst’, secret service of the SS], the police battalions, the Army and their post-1945 allies. Today, Auschwitz is not directly denied, but the victims of the Holocaust and those who do not deny or forget the truth are told by people who foam at the mouth and scream directly into their faces that they view Auschwitz as a religion. The Kreuzberg-Greens, known as subscribers of the TAZ, feel completely contented if they isolate Israel and feed the anti-Semitic hatred of the Arab world’s jihadists, and especially of Iran, with the extermination of the Jews. The TAZ agitates against the only democracy in the Middle East and has no concept of the feelings of journalists in Saudi Arabia, say, whose hands have been chopped off because they have joked about Muhammed.

In short: the TAZ is propagating feel-good anti-Semitism, mocking Auschwitz, slapping Holocaust victims in the face – and seeking the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

Translated from the German by Bruce Bawer