Slurs, vendettas and antisemitism
By Magadh, Souciant
January 23, 2013
When the Simon Wiesenthal Center published its 2012 Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs list, it comprised many obvious figures. #1 was Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has routinely called for Jewry’s destruction. The apposite quality of this designation was further illustrated when comments made by Mohammed Morsi came to light, in which he described Zionists as “bloodsuckers.”
Likewise, a high place on the list is occupied by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose cynical Holocaust revisionism is coupled with his regime’s stated goal of annihilating Israel. Most of the other figures on the list are similarly uncontroversial selections: West Ham fans chanting Holocaust-themed slogans at their opponents, explicitly anti-Jewish political parties such as Golden Dawn in Greece, and Louis Farrakhan, whose record of openly anti-Jewish rhetoric goes back decades. But it was the inclusion of German journalist Jakob Augstein that has roiled the public sphere, raising questions about where the boundary lies between legitimate criticism of the policies of the Israeli state and the promotion of racial hatred.
The charges by the Wiesenthal Center appear to be a knock on effect of a September 2012 article written by Henryk Broder, a columnist for the conservative Die Welt newspaper. That same month, Augstein wrote in Der Spiegel of the street violence in Muslim countries following the release of the viciously anti-Islamic propaganda film The Innocence of Muslims, arguing that it ultimately worked to the benefit of the Republican Party and the Israeli government. Writing in his blog, Broder claimed this showed that Augstein was, “a flawless antisemite, an antisemitic muckraker,” and then compared him to the “viciously antisemitic Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher.”
Henryk Broder, Polish-German-Jewish, journalist and TV personality, known as a polemicist (Wikipedia).
Broder’s comments were cited in the PDF of the list issued by the Wiesenthal Center, along with a series of statements by Augstein purporting to demonstrate his anti-Semitic views. These included citing the influence of pro-Israel lobby groups on U.S. politics, criticizing Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the assertion that Israel was “incubating its own opponents in Gaza,” and a statement comparing Islamic and Haredi Jewish fundamentalists.
Augstein received public support from prominent members of the German political and media communities. Perhaps most tellingly, his defenders included Salomon Korn, the vice president of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany. In an interview broadcast on Deutschlandradio Kultur, Korn said, “Obviously the Simon Wiesenthal Center is kind of detached from German reality.” Korn criticized the Wiesenthal Center for simply following Broder’s intellectual wake. “One can’t always take what (he) says literally,” said Korn, “and one can’t always take what he says seriously.” Even with such a defense, the accusation of anti-Semitism remains a serious matter for Augstein.
As a term of abuse, “anti-Semite” carries as much symbolic weight as any employed in the public sphere of the West. This is an element of the complex heritage of the Holocaust in Europe and North America. The Holocaust was the most singular event in the developed world during the 20th century. It was a grim recrudescence of modes of conduct which Europeans naively thought had been characteristic of less civilized times (or in the case of colonialism, less civilized places,) synergizing with those elements of Western culture (science, Taylorism) previously viewed as harbingers and evidence of progress beyond barbarism and superstition.
The relationship of the German left to Israel, and to Zionism, is a microcosm of problems of the left in general with questions of race and nation. This difficulty stems, at least to a great degree from the centrality of internationalism (and thus the rejection of nationalism and the politics of ethnicity) in Marxist socialism, the ideology that formed the central pillar of the politics of the continental European left in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The seeds of later problems were built into Marxist socialism at level of theory. Race and nation are, in an important sense, of a piece; both are elements of the ideological superstructure employed by the bourgeoisie to divide and disempower the proletariat.
The explicit commitment to the rejection of racism present in the ideologies of both social democrats and communists did not preclude the eruption of anti-Jewish sentiments and actions within their parties and governmental organizations. No figure embodied this contradiction more fully than Stalin, who was at the same time the leader of a party explicitly committed to combating racism and a notorious and vicious persecutor of Jews. But these represented a failure of consistency, and the inability of doctrine to overcome racial views powerfully inscribed in the cultures of the West. The intersection of Zionism, and the anti-nationalist dimension of the various strains of Marxism would not come to a head until after the Second World War.
Jakob Augstein. Re-publica, 2011.
In the postwar era, the in-built instability of leftist politics’ relationship to questions of race and nationalism reemerged (on both sides of the Cold War divide,) particularly in relation to Israel. In the Western occupation zones, laws were passed stipulating that restitution be paid to Jewish victims of Nazism. In September 1952, Konrad Adenauer signed the Luxembourg Agreement, which committed West Germany to the payment of reparations to Israel for the subjection of European Jews to persecution and slave labor. Over the course of the next 14 years, West Germany would pay over 14 billion marks to that state of Israel.
Matters were different in East Germany. The national narrative of the DDR was that they (meaning the Communists) had been victims of Nazi persecution and, as such, that they were not responsible for paying reparations for the actions of the Hitler regime. When the issue of reparations was raised in the Eastern zone, a Communist Party circular from the Central Administration of Justice raised, among other objections, the following: “When we recognize [a right] to have damage replaced we only strengthen the Jewish capitalists.”
The willingness of the Communist leadership to rehearse this racist trope only three years after the collapse of the Hitler regime is indicative of their thoroughgoing failure to come to terms with questions of race. In light of this, it is hardly surprising that East Germany did not pay a single mark in reparations in the four decades of its existence.
The rise of the student left in West Germany in the 1960s once again illustrated the contradictions of the German left with respect to race. German anti-Semitism took on a wider role in the public sphere in the wake of the Eichmann trial in Israel and the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial from 1963 to 1965. A rising generation of young Germans became increasingly vocal in their criticisms of the actions of their elders during the Nazi period, and this formed an important cultural element of the rise of the varied radical political groupings that came to be designated as the Extraparliamentary Opposition (APO).
While anti-racism was an explicit element of the politics of the, more radical elements of the German left gravitated to support of the Palestinian cause, resulting in an accentuation of their political opposition to Israel. The opposition to Zionism became alloyed with what SDS activist Tilman Fichter designated “the anti-Semitism of the left.” The nadir of this development was the attempt by elements of Bommi Baumann’s Roaming Hash Rebels to bomb a Berlin synagogue on the anniversary of Kristalnacht in 1969.
This historical background strongly influences the ways that the discursive field comprising anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and political criticism of Israel is manifested in the public sphere. It has become a commonplace for defenders of Israel to assert that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are either one and the same, or that the one is commonly a cover for the other.
In his writings for Der Spiegel, Augstein has presented some very pointed criticisms of Israeli policy. In an interview published in Die Zeit, the Wiesenthal Center’s deputy director, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, specifically cited Augstein’s comparison of Haredim and Islamic fundamentalists as evidence of his anti-Semitism. This stemmed from a piece written by Augstein in Der Spiegel in November 2012, in which he wrote of an exchange of rockets and bombardments between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, “And once again: Hamas fires rockets. Israel bombards. The law of vengeance is borderless.”
The point of the article was that extremists on both sides were motivated by demands for revenge against the other. From Cooper’s perspective, Augstein was culpable for not including the claim that Hamas was worse because they engaged in suicide bombings. In the interview in Die Zeit, Cooper asserts, “We don’t expect perfection or political correctness. But: Augstein is prominent in the media and journalists bear the greatest responsibility in a democracy.”
In this interview, and in other statements, Cooper has slightly softened his position, arguing that he viewed Augstein’s statements as anti-Semitic, rather than Augstein himself. Yet he has refused to retract the list, the PDF version which features Broder’s claim that Augstein is, “an offender by conviction who only missed his opportunity to make his career with the Gestapo because he was born after the war. He certainly would have had what it takes.”
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the charges leveled against Augstein have been specifically constructed for the German public sphere. The underlying premise of the juxtaposition of Augstein’s criticisms of Israel and the accusation that he would have been an apt candidate for an organization responsible for the mass murder of Jews suggests that his views cannot merely be political misjudgments. They must also be evidence of hatred of Jews per se.
To make such a charge in the context of Germany, given its historical role in the Holocaust is particularly startling. It represents either a barely conceivable degree of naiveté, or an intense cynicism. Faced by profound regional challenges, as well as the rise of unabashedly anti-Semitic groups in Europe (several of whom also found places on the list,) neither naiveté nor cynicism do Israel, not to mention German Jews, any favors.
By the Simon Wiesenthal Centre
1. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Today effectively rules the Arab world’s largest and most important nation
Mohammed Badie, Muslim Brotherhood’s moral guide:
The Jews have dominated the land, spread corruption on earth, spilled the blood of believers and in their actions profaned holy places. Zionists only understand the language of force and will not relent without duress. This will happen only through holy Jihad.
[NO SOURCE GIVEN]
Futouh abd Al-Nabi Mansour, Egyptian cleric, heads religious endowmment for the Matrouh governate
Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters – Oh Allah, disperse them and rend them asunder, Oh Allah, demonstrate your might and greatness upon them.
[NO SOURCE GIVEN]
At a nationally televised service at el-Tenaim Mosque attended by Egyptian President Morsi, cleric Al Nabi Mansour prays, Morsi was shown fervently answering “Amin” (Amen).
– Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, October 19, 2012 – source: MEMRI
2. Leadership with a global reach: Iranian regime
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs. And behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary, and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision-makers, to an extent that a big power with a huge economy and over 300 million population, the presidential election hopefuls must go kiss the feet of the Zionists to ensure their victory in the elections.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, July 1, 2012, Speaking to Ambassadors of Islamic Countries
[NO SOURCE GIVEN]
Major-General Hassan Firouabadi, Armed forces Chief of Staff:
he Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.
August 5, 2012
[NO SOURCE GIVEN]
Mohamed Rahimi, First Vice President
[The Talmud] “…teaches [the Jews] how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother.” As ‘evidence’ of Jewish control of international illegal drug trade, the vice president alleged that there isn’t “a single
addict among the Zionists.”
At a ceremony in Tehran marking International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
3. Israel slandered by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff
During the recent conflict instigated by Hamas against the Jewish state,the Brazilian cartoonist slandered Israel and her Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for doing what every world leader would do against the onslaught of rocket attacks targeting innocent civilians. November 2012
[A page of cartoons by by Carlos Latuff on Israel, one of which has been used by JfJfP, is available here
4. European football (soccer) fans’ anti-semitism
The problem of anti-Semitic abuse at soccer matches which until recently has been limited to Eastern Europe, has been revived in Western Europe. The most serious situation has been a resurgence of anti-Semitic chanting toward one particular team, Tottenham Hotspur, which is based in a traditionally Jewish section of London. In a recent match against a rival West Ham United, sections of its fans chanted, “Adolf Hitler’s coming for you” and “You’re getting gassed in the morning” and making hissing noises like the sound of a gas chamber. A reporter for the Telegraph said, “We are not talking about a few isolated crooners here. A significant proportion of West Ham’s travelling support participated.“
Because Tottenham has the largest Jewish fan base in England, it has long been the target of anti-Semitism—so much so that the fans have adopted the slurs “Yid” and “Yiddo” as a way of deflecting abuse.
[See Fans who mock ‘the Yids’, why Jewish fans of the Spurs call themselves ‘the Yid army’.]
5: Ukraine’s anti-semitic “Svoboda” (Freedom) party
Oleg Tyagnibok, leaderof the Svoboda party
In recent elections the radical right party won 41 seats in the Ukrainian Parliament (10.44%% of the popular vote). Tyagnibok has called for purges of the approximately 400,000 Jews and other minorities living in Ukraine and has demanded that Ukraine be liberated from what he calls, the “Muscovite Jewish Mafia.”
– Oleg Tyagnibok
Igor Miroshnichenko, Member of Ukrainian parliament slanders U.S.
Actress Mila Kunis
MP Igor Miroshnichenko, recently labeled noted Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, a ‘zhydovka’, (dirty Jewess). Zhid [Yid] is an insidious slur used against Jews since the times of the Czar and invoked by the Nazis and their collaborators as they rounded up the Jews to murder them at Babi Yar and in the death camps. Mila Kunis’ family, like countless thousands of other Ukrainian Jewish families, left the Ukraine in the first place because of anti-Semitism. The Wiesenthal Center has urged Prime Minister Azarov to publicly denounce the political extremists.
6: Greece’s Golden Dawn party
Nikolaos Michaliakos, Golden Dawn founder
Nikolaos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s founder appeared to give a Nazi salute in the Athens City Council. He claims that it was merely “the salute of the national youth organization of Ioannis Metaxas.”
In May 2012, he told an interviewer that six million did not die in the Nazi Holocaust. He called the figure an exaggeration. “There were no
ovens. This is a lie…there were no gas chambers, either” – Nikolaos Michaloliakos
See related Youtube: http://youtu.be/yXy7f17GXtQ
The Times of London reports that Golden Dawn’s member Artemis Matthaiopoulos, elected MP for the town of Serres, was the front man
of the Nazi punk band Pogrom. One of the band’s songs, “Auschwitz” included anti-Semitic lyrics such as “f*** Wiesenthal”, “f*** Anne
Frank”, “f*** the whole tribe of Abraham”, “Juden raus” and “The Star of David makes me vomit.” Matthaiopoulos is the second
neo-Nazi rocker to represent Golden Dawn in the Greek Parliament.
Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman for the Golden Dawn party
During a session of the Greek Parliament that was discussing an assault charge against Kasidiaris, he read from the notoriously anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’s” protocol #19. It alleges that Jewish leaders seek to discredit patriots as part of their attempt to take over governments: “In order to destroy the prestige of heroism, we shall send them for trial for theft, murder and every kind of abominable and filthy crime.”
– Ilias Kasidiaris
7. Far-right Hungarian Jobbik party
Marton Gyongyosi, Foreign Policy Cabinet
On October 26, Marton Gyongyosi, far-right party leader criticized Hungary’s foreign ministry for supporting Israel and raised the specter of dual loyalty by calling for background checks on Hungarian Jewish citizens.
“I think now is the time to assess how many people there are of Jewish origin here, and especially in the Hungarian parliament who represent a certain national security risk of Hungary.”
– Marton Gyongyosi
Gyongyosi’s remarks spurred other lawmakers to wear Jewish stars in protest and led to public demonstrations
8. Norway Honors promoter of anti-semitic conspiracy canards
Trond Ali Linstad:
Trond Ali Linstad’s website warns readers to “beware the Jews” and the “influence they have in newspaper, in other media, and in many political organs.”
Linstad depicts violence against Israel as a “great success” and supports use of the slogan -”Kharibat Khybarj”* a jihadist term for terrorism against Jews. He also alleges “every president in the US must adapt to the Jewish lobby”, which he says undermines US policy. –
* possibly Kharibat Khaibar meaning the infidels have fallen. Infidels are all non-Muslims and the phrase has not specific anti-Jewish meaning
Trond Ali Linstad [Source?]
Despite his notorious record, in 2012 Linstad was nominated by King Harald V for the Royal Service Medal, which recognizes people for work in the arts, science, industry and public service! [The award was withdrawn after intensive lobbying by the pro-Israeli right wing.]
[From our Norwegian correspondents:
Trond Ali Lindstad is not always clear in his distinction between the Israeli state and the Jews, especially when describing what he sees as networks of people working to legitimize the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Powerful Israeli politicians contribute to the confusion, calling the Israeli state ‘a Jewish state’. Lindstad’s blurring of this distinction is thus understandable, but he should of course be told to be more careful. He has no place on the list in question, however.The reward he (almost) got was for running a school for immigrants in Oslo.]
9 . Louis Farrakhan
In the past, Louis Farrakhan has claimed that Jews controlled the slave trade, the US Government, and continue to seek world domination. In 2012, Farrakhan intensified his anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“Jews control the media. They said it themselves…In Washington right next to the Holocaust museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?”
October 21, 2012 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago [source?]
“…Did you know the Koran says that Jews are the most violent of people? I didn’t write it, but I’m living to see it.”
February 26, 2012 – Savior’s Day Speech, Chicago [Source?}
“Brothers and sisters, you’ve gotta stop being guided by the controlled media that is owned by Zionist forces that want to make you pawns in the struggle of Israel and Zionism.”
“Guidance in a Time of Trouble” speech in San Diego, 5/27/12
10. Jakob Augstein
Owner / Esitor, Der Freitag weekly/ contributor 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 fundalmentalists 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 U.S. 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.”
All translated quotes from Spiegel Online, – Jakob Augstein
Respected Die Welt columnist Henryk M. Broder, who has testified as an expert in the Bundestag about German anti-Semitism, labeled Augstein a “little Streicher” adding: “Jakob Augstein is not a salon anti-Semite, he’s a pure anti-Semite…an offender by conviction who only missed the opportunity to make his career with the Gestapo because he was born after the war. He certainly would have had what it takes.”
We invite members of the public to forward to the Wiesenthal Center anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel so that such incidents can be exposed and that the perpetrators be held accountable in the court of public opinion.
[See Souciant article at top of this posting.]
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER