Saturday, September 6, 2008

Jewish Anti-Semitism

This past week, a German court officially recognized that being Jewish, or of Jewish origin, does not provide immunity against charges of anti-Semitism. The case involved Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, whose late father Heinz Galinski was the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany after the Holocaust, and journalist Henryk Broder. Broder had publicly charged that Hecht-Galinski's statements, such as a "Jewish-Israel lobby with its active network is extended over the world and thanks to America its power has become so great...", were anti-Semitic. Initially an injunction was obtained by Hect-Galinski against Broder; the court in Cologne waived the injunction as long as Broder could provide reasons for that charge. The Jerusalem Post article about the court decision can be found here.

Of course, as readers of this blog and other astute observers know, this phenomenon is by no means limited to Germany, or even Europe. We have commented here on groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and Bay Area Women in Black that try to deflect criticism of some of their positions with the "how can we be anti-Semitic, we're Jewish?" response. But it shouldn't make a difference whether the same defamatory comments from from them, or from someone who associates with the neo-Nazi fringe like Alison Weir (teaser alert--this will be subject of an upcoming post in about a week). Natan Sharansky has pointed out that if statements are made that demonize Israel (the world's only Jewish state), if they delegitimize the existence of Israel and only Israel, if they invoke double standards of acceptable behavior against Israel and only Israel, that's anti-Semitic. The EU Working Definition of Anti-Semitism includes those points as well as the phrase "drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis" in determining whether statements are anti-Semitic.

The German court got it right. It doesn't matter who said it, wrote it, or blogged it. It doesn't matter whether someone's father was a well-respected leader whose memory is being exploited by someone without any other credentials. It doesn't matter if a group has "Jewish" in its name. The same statements are anti-Semitic whether they come from sources like that or from David Duke. And we'll continue to call it that way.

1 comment:

  1. Very good post on a sensitive topic in Germany, am waiting for next one on Alison Weir then :)