Clemens Heni

Wissenschaft und Publizistik als Kritik

Schlagwort: Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA)

Ignoramus et ignorabimus: German sociologist Peter Ullrich will never know if left-wing antisemitism really exists

The Times of Israel, October 16, 2013

The Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at Technical University in Berlin has generated a long list of controversies in recent years, take the views of its former head Wolfgang Benz for example. In 2011 he was followed by historian Stefanie Schueler-Springorum, a newcomer in the field of research on antisemitism.

  • On November 8–9, 2013, Schueler-Springorum, the Jewish Museum Berlin, and the foundation Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future (EVZ) will hold an international conference dedicated to antisemitism in Europe today.
  • Among many very troubling speakers at this event, one new German voice will be heard: Peter Ullrich.
  • Ullrich, born 1976, is a sociologist, and recently employed as a co-worker in a project of the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA).
  • In October 2013, he published a book (in German) by well-known publishing house Wallstein dedicated to the analysis of left-wing antisemitism, Germans, Israel, Palestine, and remembrance of the Holocaust.
  • In his book, Peter Ullrich attacks political scientist Samuel Salzborn (born 1977), who is a professor at Goettingen University, and historian Sebastian Voigt, for their criticism of left-wing antisemitism.
  • In 2011, Salzborn and Voigt published an article about troubling tendencies in the party of the Left in Germany, Die Linke. For example, two Members of Parliament and one former Member of Parliament, Inge Höger, Annette Groth, and Norman Paech, respectively, were on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010. This terror vessel was part of the so-called Gaza Flotilla, dedicated to ending the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip and to destabilizing Israel.
  • Salzborn and Voigt analyzed the failure of the party Die Linke to fight antisemitism, including anti-Zionist antisemitism.
  • In his small book, Ullrich defames all kind of institutions, authors and scholars against antisemitism in Germany, including political scientist Matthias Kuentzel, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, headed by Anetta Kahane, and historian Wolfgang Kraushaar, known for his criticism of left-wing antisemitism.
  • Scholars like Ullrich no longer deny any debate about antisemitism and the left. On the contrary, and what is even worse, they use this topic to deny the real existence of antisemitic incidents like the Mavi Marmara. He says maybe some people “tolerated” antisemitism on that ship, but at the end of the day it is all “grey” (he loves “grey zones”).
  • Ullrich even joined several panels with Annette Groth, MP of Die Linke, who was on the Mavi Marmara.
  • People like Ullrich deal with troubling topics like the left and antisemitism in order to silence critics of anti-Zionism and Jihad.
  • In his book he mentions several antisemitic incidents, but then trivializes the dimension of each of these incidents in the next sentence or paragraph.
  • Even the participation of MPs of Die Linke in the Gaza Flotilla is not proof for him that antisemitism is prevalent among the members and representatives of that very party (both Groth and Höger were re-elected MPs in September 2013!).
  • The EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism, adopted in 2005, states: “Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination”.
  • German sociologist Peter Ullrich rejects this statement. As his book is promoted by the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA), they seem to share his scandalous view.
  • By the end of his book, on page 184, Peter Ullrich and his co-author in that chapter, Alban Werner, argue that the EUMC working definition on antisemitism cannot be used in each case the EUMC lists. For example, and crucially, Ullrich points to the following: to frame “denying Israel’s right to exist” as antisemitic, as the EUMC working definition does, is “without substance,” or meaningless. Why? Ullrich says that too many groups of people are denying Israel’s right to exist, including Hamas, right-wing extremists, ultra-orthodox Jews, and distinguished scholars and authors (probably like Ullrich himself) who deny Israel’s right to exist due to their “universalist” philosophy, based on the rejection of any nation-state.
  • According to Ullrich’s unscholarly and biased view, it might be antisemitic to deny Israel’s right to exist if such a statement is accompanied by antisemitic conspiracy myths (Hamas), or racial Jew-hatred (neo-Nazis) etc.
  • To deny Israel’s right to exist in our times is not antisemitic as such, in Ullrich’s (and the ZfA’s) view.
  • In fact the denial of Israel’s right to exist as such is a core element of today’s antisemitism.
  • It is unscholarly in nature to reject the statement that the denial of Israel’s right to exist is antisemitic. As Israel is the Jewish state, it is antisemitic to reject Israel as a Jewish state.
  • There is a connection between Hamas, right-wing extremists, and left-wing or liberal cosmopolitan anti-Zionists in particular.
  • This is the red-green-brown alliance.
  • Why is Ullrich saying that there is no substance in that part of the EUMC definition? Because he does not want cosmopolitan anti-Zionists to be put in the same box as Hamas or right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis.
  • Ullrich is but the latest example of hijacking serious scholarship on antisemitism, including anti-Zionism.
  • He will be on a panel at the November 8–9, 2013, conference of the ZfA, the EVZ Foundation and the Jewish Museum Berlin, dealing with “Criticism of Israel or Antisemitism?”
  • As shown, denying Israel’s right to exist is not antisemitic in Ullrich’s view.
  • Therefore he himself, supported by the institutions involved, promotes antisemitism, according to the EUMC working definition of antisemitism.
  • Let me use the famous bon mot of 19th century German physiologist Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond, adopting it ironically for today’s analysis of antisemitism: “Ignoramus et ignorabimus” (“we do not know and will not know”, aiming at the limits of scientific knowledge) – German sociologist Peter Ullrich will never know if left-wing antisemitism really exists…

The Obsession to fight the Jewish state – The binational option, from Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt to Micha Brumlik and Judith Butler

The Times of Israel, September 3, 2013

On September 9 and 10, 2013, the Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at Berlin’s Technical University, together with the huge German Foundation on “Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future”, which spends up to seven million Euros a year for events (and spent over 70 million Euros since its inception in the year 2000), the group “Berlin-Kreuzberg Initiative against Antisemitism (Kiga)” and several other organizations as well as a German ministry of the Federal Government, will held a conference in Nuremberg on the Middle East conflict and its perception among immigrants in Germany.

The ZfA and its former head Wolfgang Benz have been criticized in recent years for promoting research on “Islamophobia” instead of Muslim antisemitism. In addition, Benz has been questioned about his silence about the Nazi legacy of his PhD advisor Karl Bosl, who awarded Benz a doctorate in 1968. In 1964, Bosl had compared the Holocaust to the expulsion of Germans from the East, and during Nazi Germany Bosl was on the payroll of the SS, an active historian in Nazi circles, and a member of the Nazi party NSDAP. Wolfgang Benz even collaborated with hardcore Islamist activists from the German online project Muslim Market and gave those pro-Iranian antisemites a very friendly interview in November 2010. Muslim Market is among those groups that organize the pro-Iran, pro-Hezballah and anti-Israel al-Quds rallies every year at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan. On their homepage Muslim Market promotes the boycott of Israel with a scratched-out Star of David. Is this an appropriate place for the best known German scholar on antisemitism to be interviewed?

Then, in 2012, the new Center head since summer 2011, historian Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, appointed Edward Said follower and anti-Zionist Islamic studies scholar Achim Rohde. I analyzed the problematic tropes of Rohde’s scholarly approach and he left (or had to leave) the ZfA in 2013. Schüler-Springorum, though, is far from being an expert on research on antisemitism, let alone Israel, the Middle East, or the history of anti-Zionism. She has not published a single book on antisemitism so far, which is remarkable for the head of the leading European institute for research on that topic.

A speaker at the event in Nuremberg will be Islamic studies scholar and journalist Alexandra Senfft. In November 2012 she interviewed Wolfgang Benz and welcomed his new book on “How fear of Muslims threatens our democracies” – a strange topic for a scholar on antisemitism who is silent on jihadism and Islamist Jew-hatred. Senfft even mentioned that Benz frequently is interviewed by Muslims and Muslim journals in Germany but she had no problem and did not mention Benz’ interview with the hardcore Islamist and antisemitic Muslim Market. Senfft argues against critics of antisemitism like Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano and journalist Henryk M. Broder because they are critics of “Islam,” in fact they are critics of Islamist antisemitism in particular and Islamism in general.

One of the best known speakers at the September 9 event, invited by Schüler-Springorum and her allies, is Professor Micha Brumlik, a pedagogue by profession. Brumlik has been known in recent decades as a critic of some forms of antisemitism in Germany. But he is even better known today for his kosher stamps for antisemitic agitators like Judith Butler who received the very prestigious Adorno-Prize of the city of Frankfurt in 2012. Butler calls Israel an apartheid state, she supports the anti-Jewish Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and she is in favor of German-Jewish philosophers Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) and Martin Buber (1878–1965). Both Arendt and Buber agitated against a Jewish state of Israel and favored a binational Israel.

In the July issue of the leading left-wing German monthly, Konkret, Brumlik promoted a “Plan B.” In his article he argued against Israel as a Jewish state and followed Buber’s plans for a binational Israel. Konkret and Brumlik went so far as to say that Jews may not have a principled right of return to Zion – rather humanitarian and economic aspects should regulate immigration to Israel/Palestine.

Brumlik and Konkret are not stupid, they are not pro-Hamas or pro-Hezballah, they are rather critics of Islamist antisemitism and the Iranian threat. Konkret is even known as one of the very few self-declared pro-Israel journals in Germany. If it is pro-Israel to plead for a binational state – then you can imagine the anti-Zionist climate in Germany.

A few days after Brumlik’s piece was published by Konkret, I wrote a critique of this anti-Israel article. I said that this approach for a binational Israel, coming from a well-known Jewish professor and a self-declared pro-Israel monthly, is perhaps more dangerous than anti-Israel hatred coming from all kinds of hardcore right-wing or left-wing circles. I said that Brumlik and Konkret are perhaps more dangerous thanks to their distinguished style, their clear and calm strategy for this “Plan B” aiming at a binational Israel and rejecting Jews’ principled right of return.

Konkret became rather angry about my critique and attacked my person in a nasty and completely unprofessional way in the following editorial. Such attacks against pro-Israel scholars are normal when it comes to typical extreme right-wing or left-wing hate mongers, but Konkret always pretended to be pro-Israel. But well, Martin Buber was pro-Israel, too. He was a Zionist and this is the problem we are facing: what is Zionism?

This is a strategic question, going beyond the actual debates and conflicts.

There is the political Zionism of Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) and his followers. Herzl was not religious but desperate for a Jewish state. Others, like Achad Ha’am (1856–1927) preferred a cultural Zionism, urging Jews to become more Jewish in an inner, philosophical or religious and cultural way. This awakening of being Jewish was also a main element of Martin Buber’s approach in the early 20th century. Buber was a strong Zionist but did not want a Jewish state at all. Like Arendt, who was much younger than him and less religious, he was in favor of a homeland for Jews, but not a Jewish state. Sounds strange to today’s ears? This convoluted logic is behind today’s proposals for a binational state. And this is what we have to struggle with, in the next years and decades.

Influential German historian Dan Diner from Leipzig and Tel Aviv Universities argued for a binational Israel in his super PhD (habilitation) in 1980, too. I am not sure if this is still his point of view, but I fear it is. Historian Siegbert Wolf, known for books on Buber or anarchist and friend of Buber, Gustav Landauer (who was killed by sadistic, antisemitic, nationalistic and anti-socialist pre-Nazi German soldiers in 1919), argued for a binational Israel as well and referred to Diner. Like Diner, Konkret or Brumlik, Wolf is not stupid at all. He is aware of the Nazi collaboration of the leading Arab and Muslim politician at the time, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, and refers to pro-Israel and anti-Islamist critics of the Mufti like political scientist Matthias Küntzel, and historians Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers. Despite these facts, Wolf supports antisemitic and so called post-Orientalist superstar Edward Said (1935–2003) and his plea for a binational Israel. Wolf’s pro-Buber article was published by the official German Martin-Buber-Society in 2011.

Butler likes the idea of a binational Israel, and therefore she refers to Arendt and Buber. For Butler, though, in her anti-Israel book from 2012, “Parting Ways. Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism,” Buber was still a problem, because he was in favor of Jewish “settler colonialism” and Jewish immigration to Palestine (prior to 1948). In fact, Buber wanted limited immigration even after the Shoah. In 1947, together with the co-founder and later President of Hebrew University, Judah Magnes (1877–1948), he wrote a pamphlet “Arab-Jewish Unity,” a “Testimony before the Anglo-American Inquiry Commission for the Ihud (Union) Association.” In it, they argued against a Jewish state of Israel and wanted a limited immigration of 100,000 Jews a year, in order to not disturb the Arabs.

In 1958, Martin Buber wrote that the “philosophy of violence” of the “national socialist evil” kept on “having an effect” “in a part of our people,” the Jewish people. This (antisemitic) comparison of Jews to Nazis was remembered, quoted and not at all criticized in 1961 in an afterword to a big study by Hans Cohn on Buber, written by the Brit Shalom member (1925–1933), co-founder of the Leo Baeck Institute and first editor of its Yearbook (1956–1978), Israeli journalist Robert Weltsch (1891–1982). Cohn’s book with Weltsch’s afterword appeared in a second printing in 1979, published by the Leo Baeck Institute New York, with a foreword by German historian Julius H. Schoeps, today head of the 1992 founded Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies (MMZ) in Potsdam.

As historians and co-editors of the “New Essays on Zionism” in 2006, David Hazony, Yoram Hazony, and Michael B. Oren, observed, there is a need to justify Zionism in our times after the Cold War, an era that for Israel was relatively harmless, predictable, and largely free of today’s jihadist threat. Thanks to “European ideology,” they wrote, the “future of mankind” is seen “in the dissolution of state sovereignty.” Therefore Zionism, political Zionism and not spiritual or cultural Zionism, to be sure, needs philosophical, historical, political and religious justification.

We have to confront European and German ideology of Immanuel Kant and the end of the nation-state in the late 18th century. Kant is still very influential in philosophy and politics alike, take Yale’s Seyla Benhabib as an example. In 2012 she was awarded a prize in Germany, despite her outspoken anti-Zionist articles in recent years and her friendship with Judith Butler. Even pro-Israel young scholars embrace Benhabib and are unwilling or unable to decode the dangerous ideology of Kant, and his followers in the anti-nation-state tent.

Israel is a Jewish state and has to be a Jewish state and has to be accepted as a Jewish state. Israel as a Jewish state with unlimited immigration could have saved hundreds of thousand Jews, if not millions. Jews have by far the longest and most intense relationship to Zion and the territory of Israel. Jerusalem is of minor importance to Islam, just take the Quran as an example. Finally, no one in the humanities and social sciences is questioning the Muslim character of almost all Arab states, or of Iran.

Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt, perhaps today the two most influential Jewish anti-Israel-as-a-Jewish-state celebrities in the humanities and social sciences from the 20th century, did a bad job. They attacked and defamed the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state in the 1940s, take the time frame from 1942 until 1948, when the Holocaust happened and the Biltmore conference in May 1942 in New York City argued in favor of a Jewish state of Israel.

The question is not only if someone is pro-Israel, but also what kind of Israel. What do people refer to when they are in favor of Israel – a cultural Zionist or spiritual Judaistic Israel with no Jewish majority, a binational Israel? Or, a political Zionist Israel, the Jewish state of Israel?

It is a scandal that proponents of a binational Israel and authors who attack critics of antisemitism and Muslim antisemitism are invited to that conference to be held in Nuremberg, September 9, 2013.

Finally, even among self-declared friends of Israel there is a huge gap of knowledge about the history of Zionism and Israel as a Jewish state. There is much work to be done for serious scholarship.

How Does Modern-day Germany deal with Antisemitism? Lecture by Dr. Clemens Heni, WJC, Jerusalem

Lecture by Dr. Clemens Heni, Director, The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA, www.bicsa.org) at the World Jewish Congress Institute for Research and Policy, Jerusalem, 9a Diskin Street, Monday, May 27, 2013, 4 pm (with special thanks to Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, chief editor of the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, who organized the event, who was a great host and who is a wonderful ally!)

CAM00414On Facebook, the World Jewish Congress wrote: “On May 27, 2013, the WJC Institute for Research and Policy hosted a talk at the offices of the Institute given by Dr. Clemens Heni, director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA). Dr. Heni spoke on “How Does Modern-Day Germany Deal with Antisemitism?” He described the three main categories of antisemitism and how those are manifested in modern-day Germany. He stressed the widespread antisemitism in the guise of anti-Zionism that flourishes in German academia and political life. A spirited Q&A session followed his talk, in which Judge Gabriel Bach, a prosecutor at the Eichmann Trial and a native of Germany, took an active part. Institute member Dr. Nir Boms, a fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center, moderated the event.”

 

Der World Jewish Congress und sein Institute for Research and Policy luden mich ein, am 27. Mai 2013 einen Vortrag über das heutige Deutschland und sein Verhältnis zum Antisemitismus zu halten. Unter anderem waren mehrere ehemalige Botschafter Israels anwesend. Es war eine besondere Ehre und Freude, dass sich der Staatsanwalt und stellvertretende Ankläger gegen Adolf Eichmann, Gabriel Bach (Jg. 1927), für meinen Vortrag interessierte und aktiv an der anschließenden Diskussion teilnahm. Unten stehend ist das hand-out, das ich verteilte. Der Vortrag selbst war länger und ausführlicher (13 Seiten mit 97 Fußnoten) als das Paper, das nur einige zentrale Aspekte aufführt. Vom Vortragsort in der Diskin Street hat man übrigens einen wundervollen Blick über Jerusalem und sieht vis-à-vis das israelische Parlament, die Knesset.

CAM00415

View from WJC Jerusalem to the Knesset

Gabriel Bach and Clemens Heni, Jerusalem, May 27, 2013, World Jewish Congress

How does Modern-Day Germany deal with Antisemitism?

 

What is Antisemitism and what categories of antisemitism can be analyzed?

 

Antisemitism in the 21st century is hatred of Jews, hatred of the Jewish state of Israel, and the distortion of the Holocaust.

 

There are mainly three categories of antisemitism:

 

1)      Old-style anti-Judaism and antisemitism up until 1945, which still exists today

2)      Antisemitism after the Holocaust, including Holocaust distortion or “secondary antisemitism” which is closely related to the

3)      Anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel since 1948

 

Category 1) Old-style anti-Judaism and antisemitism up until 1945, which is still existent today

 

1)                  Anti-circumcision since antiquity; anti-shechting and other anti-Judaism resentments

2)                  Jews as Christ-killer

3)                  Anti-Ahasver, the “eternal Jew” (in Germany in particular, framed Der Ewige Jude as early as 1694)

4)                  Blood Libel, Jews accused of killing innocent non-Jewish (mostly Christian and since 1840 (Damascus Blood Libel) Muslim children)

5)                  Anti-Mammonism, Jews accused of being behind capitalism and money (examples are Karl Marx 1844 or leftists in winter 2003 dancing in Davos at the World Economic Forum around a golden calf and combining anti-Americanism and antisemitism.)

6)                  Conspiracy Myths, in particular the most horrible conspiracy fraud ever, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion from the early 20th century (a Russian forgery), today disseminated throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds, and among neo-Nazis, and others. Jews being behind the “Black Death” in the Middle Ages in Europe is another conspiracy myth, for example. The same holds for talks about an “Israel lobby” controlling the US, among many other conspiracy driven myths. Jews being behind modernity and liberalism, sexual politics, the emergence of big cities and the destruction of traditions, and Jews being behind Socialism and Communism, or the French and Russian Revolutions fit conspiracy myths, too.

Me and moderator Dr. Nir Boms, World Jewish Congress, May 27, 2013, Jerusalem. You see the four books on antisemitism, Germany, the New Right, Islamic Studies and antisemitism after 9/11, I’ve written since 2002, when I was a doctoral candidate and when I first spoke at an international conference in Jerusalem at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), Hebrew University

 

Category 2) Antisemitism after the Holocaust, including Holocaust distortion or “secondary antisemitism” (Antisemitism after and because of Auschwitz)

 

7)                  Projecting German guilt onto modernity like equating of the Holocaust with “motorized agriculture” (Martin Heidegger, 1949); bomb war against Germany framed as “bombing Holocaust” and related terms (the latter is promoted, for example, by leading boulevard daily BILD-Zeitung and its author Jörg Friedrich, who used the term “crematoria” for the city of Dresden); projecting German guilt onto the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe like Czechoslovakia, when Germans are portrayed as victims of a “Holocaust of expulsion.”

8)                  Using the term Holocaust for all kind of things, therefore universalizing the Shoah: terms like “biological Holocaust,” “atomic” or “nuclear Holocaust,” “high-tech Holocaust,” “for the animals it is like Treblinka,” “Golden Holocaust,” when talking about the tobacco industry, or “Holocaust of abortion” are examples.

9)                  Denial of the Uniqueness of the Shoah. Some post-colonialists and post-Orientalists, for example, talk about “Kaiser’s Holocaust” or talk about “From Windhuk to Auschwitz” (historian Jürgen Zimmerer, Hamburg University) and frame the mass murder of natives in German South-West Africa (today: Namibia) as a Holocaust. Others compare colonialism, imperialism or slavery with the Shoah and confuse exploitation with destruction.

10)               Red equals brown, the Prague Declaration (June 2008) and the rewriting of the Second World War have become major tropes in contemporary historiography.

11)               Talking about “Islamophobia” and comparing racist attacks against immigrants, including Muslims, in Germany and elsewhere, to genocidal antisemitism.

12)               Holocaust denial by neo-Nazis, Islamists, and others.

 

Category 3) Anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel

 

13)               Jewish anti-Zionism prior to the establishment of Israel (e.g. Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt)

14)               Soviet-style anti-Zionism after 1948

15)               Arab anti-Zionism (rejection of UN division plan 1947)

16)               Islamist anti-Zionism

17)               Liberal and left-wing anti-Zionism after 1967 in the West

18)               Right-wing anti-Zionism immediately after 1945 and even before, Nazi antisemitism was also anti-Zionist

19)               Mainstream European anti-Zionism in several countries who see Israel as a “threat to world peace,” particularly since the year 2000 and after 9/11

20)               Particularly since the Second Intifada in 2000, anti-Zionism and Islamism increased dramatically via electronic media and the Internet (take, as examples, anti-Israel pages online, including the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, leading Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi and his online activities)

 

Germany and Category 1) Old-style anti-Judaism and antisemitism:

Anti-circumcision court ruling in Cologne May 2012; supportive of the anti-circumcision climate in Germany: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, small and tiny pro-Israel left-winger (jungle world, Bahamas), “evolutionary humanists” (=aggressive atheists) of the Giordano Bruno Foundation; particularly the extreme right-wing Politically Incorrect (blog), and the tiny party Die Freiheit (Michael Stürzenberger)

 

Germany and Category 2) Holocaust Distortion and secondary Antisemitism:

Award in Germany in 2012 for historian Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands › Holocaust distortion, implicitly following Ernst Nolte, denial of unprecedented character of the Shoah; equating of Hitler and Stalin; pro-Snyder: Christoph Dieckmann, Michael Wildt, Jörg Baberowski; contra-Snyder: Dan Diner, Dan Michmann, Dovid Katz, Robert Rozett, Efraim Zuroff, Jürgen Zarusky, Richard Evans, for example

 

Prague Declaration (2008): red equals brown (promoted by Lithuania and other East European countries and individuals), rewriting of textbooks; support by newly elected (2012) German President Joachim Gauck

Dr. Clemens Heni, World Jewish Congress, May 27, 2013

Germany and Category 3: Anti-Zionism and hatred of Israel:

 

Journalist Jakob Augstein (Der Freitag, Spiegel Online) supports Günter Grass’ anti-Zionism

 

Awards in Germany in 2012 for anti-Israel philosopher and gender studies celebrity Judith Butler (BDS, Israel Apartheid Week Toronto 2012) and anti-nation-state, Kantian political scientist Seyla Benhabib (“Israel committed possible crimes against humanity” in the Gaza war 2008/2009)

 

Scholar in political psychology Wolfgang Kempf says: comparing Israel to Nazis might urge Jews not to “lose their high moral standard”; in his view, suicide bombing against Jews in Israel is “not necessarily antisemitic” if not followed by the denial of Israel’s right to exist

 

Leading German expert on antisemitism, Wolfgang Benz (former head, Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA), Technical University Berlin): charming interview with leading Islamist, pro-Iranian, antisemitic and anti-Israel homepage Muslim-Markt, November 2010; equation of antisemitism and Islamophobia (Dec. 2008); equation of critics of antisemitism and Islamism with “preachers of hate” (Jan. 2010);

 

Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) and its head Stefanie Schüler-Springorum (newcomer in the field) appointed Islamic Studies scholar Achim Rohde (2012); pro-pan-Arabism Rohde is a follower of antisemite Jacqueline Rose and of anti-Zionist Edward Said; Rohde is explicitly supposed to work with Said’s concept of Orientalism in relation to Islamophobia and antisemitism. The ZfA focuses on research on antisemitism seen as “research on minorities.” International research on antisemitism, though, has shown that antisemitism has close to nothing to do with the existence of Jews in a country or region (take post-Holocaust European antisemitism, Saudi-Arabian or Qatari antisemitism as examples)

 

Leading German Islamic Studies scholar Gudrun Krämer (Free University Berlin) promotes Yusuf al-Qaradawi as a “moderate.” Her former students are Rohde as well as Bettina Gräf, who embraced al-Qaradawi in her edited book Global Mufti. In Global Mufti al-Qaradawi is portrayed, for example, as a moderate because he allows females to commit suicide bombing against Jews without the allowance of their fathers or husbands, and even unveiled. That’s feminism, Islamist-style …

 

 

Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) in Germany appointed anti-Israel activist

Center for Research on
Antisemitism (ZfA) in Germany appointed anti-Israel activist

Islamic Studies scholar Achim Rohde
promotes Edward Said and
anti-Zionist antisemitism

 

By Dr. Clemens Heni, The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA), August 1, 2012 (another version of this article was published July 31, 2012, with algemeiner.com in New York City)

 

The Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at the Berlin Technical University in April 2012 appointed as a co-worker an outspoken supporter of antisemite Edward Said: Achim Rohde. A scholar in Islamic Studies, Rohde was hired because he conducts research to evaluate the similarities of “antisemitism” and “Orientalism” “in the sense of Edward Said,” as the ZfA newsletter of May 2012 declares. In addition, he will be working on the ZfA’s big project on “Islamophobia in European societies.”[1] “Islamophobia” as a research project of a Center for Research on Antisemitism? This is unscholarly in nature and politically scandalous.

The appointment of Achim Rohde is shocking for scholars on antisemitism, though a big coup for enemies of the Jewish state of Israel. Responsible for this is newly appointed head of the ZfA, historian Stefanie Schüler-Springorum. Hired in June 2011, she is a newcomer to scholarship on antisemitism. She has not published a single book on that topic – nor has Rohde.

Edward Said becomes even more mainstream
in German academia

Edward Said (1935–2003) was the leading academic anti-Zionist voice in the last decades, achieving global fame. He portrayed Arabs as the ‘new Jews’ as early as 1969.[2] He equated Israel with South-African apartheid in 1979[3] and portrayed Israel as the leading Orientalist, imperialist and racist power in his bestselling book Orientalism in 1978.[4] The chapter on Israel is the last and longest chapter in this anti-Western and antisemitic book. In an interview in 1987 Said said that Israelis had not learned the lessons from their own suffering under Nazi Germany. In his view Jews have become perpetrators now in the same way Germans or Nazis were perpetrators against the Jews.[5] In 1999 Said said that, if he could choose, he would opt for a kind of renewed Ottoman Empire. Jews could become an accepted minority, but Israel would be destroyed.[6]

Now, in 2012, Edward Said is mainstream[7] at the only German University based research center on antisemitism. They are promoting antisemitism instead of analyzing it.

Achim Rohde and the equation of antisemitism
and Orientalism

Rohde was published in 2010 by then head of the ZfA, controversial historian Wolfgang Benz.[8] Rohde promotes the fantasy that Muslims and Arabs had been victims of Germany since the 19th century, if not long before. He follows the ideology of “the Orient within.” This means: while Orientalists aim at Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, they aim at Jews in Europe. Jews are victims of Orientalism within the homeland of the empire, Europe, so to speak, while Arabs and Muslims are victims abroad, in the Middle East and in the fantasies of artists, authors, writers, politicians, intellectuals, the public, art historians, painters etc. etc.

This equation of antisemitism and Orientalism is a denial of antisemitism, which is based on conspiracy theories, blood libels, anti-liberalism, anti-capitalism, anti-communism, anti-Westernism and many other aspects of that “longest hatred,” a term of historian Robert S. Wistrich.[9] The “lethal obsession” (Wistrich)[10] of antisemitism cannot be compared or equated with supposedly or real Orientalism and allegedly or really problematic views vis-à-vis the Arabs and Muslims. Particularly after 9/11 it has become fashionable and useful to ignore Islamism and Muslim antisemitism and to talk about Arabs, Muslims and Jews as victims of Orientalism. Anti-Zionist antisemitism is a core element of this post-Orientalist ideology, as I have shown in the work of Edward Said.

 

Rohde and many colleagues, who are obsessed with post-colonial ideology and Edward Said, ignore or deny the close friendship of German Emperor Wilhelm II, who traveled to the Ottoman Empire in 1898 and portrayed himself as friend of the Muslims. German Islamists remember this German-Muslim friendship until today.[11] In 1914, during the First World War, Wilhelm II initiated the Jihad of the Ottoman Empire, as Middle East Studies scholar and historian Wolfgang G. Schwanitz has shown.[12] Subsequently, the Arab Muslim Brotherhood developed close ties with the Nazis even before the Holocaust. During the Shoah, the Arab and Muslim leader at the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, collaborated with Hitler and the Germans. Nazi Germany was pro-Arab and pro-Muslim, and anti-Jewish.[13] Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal documented the close relationship of the Grandmufti of Jerusalem, al-Husseini, and the Axis (Nazi Germany and fascist Italy) in 1947.[14]

 

Nazi scholar Hans Lindemann published a work about Islam in 1941, urging the Germans to see the similarities of the Muslim world and National Socialism.[15] A leading Nazi agitator, Johann von Leers, was happy about Islamism and converted to Islam after the defeat of Nazi Germany and went to Egypt, like many former Nazis, to spread Jew-hatred and antisemitism in that leading Arab country. Egyptian President Nasser welcomed these Nazis and collaborated with them, as the American Jewish Committee documented as early as 1957.[16] Historian Robert Wistrich analyzed the antisemitism of Egypt and von Leers in 1985.[17]

During the 1950s, the Federal Republic of Germany became a hotbed for Islamism (supported by Federal agencies), thanks to anti-communist hysteria of the time, as Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson[18] and historian Stefan Meining[19] have shown in recent years. Finally, 9/11 inflamed German Schadenfreude, anti-American, anti-Israel and pro-Islamist tendencies.[20]

Rohde, from the younger generation (born 1969), is equally aggressive against critics of antisemitism as is Benz. Rohde’s thesis was about the Ba’ath Party, Saddam Hussein, gender-relations in Iraq, and the ideology of pan-Arabism.[21] He submitted his work in 2006 at the Institute for Islamic Studies at Free University Berlin. His first reader was the controversial (in Germany: prize winning) scholar Gudrun Krämer, who is known for portraying the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, as a nice guy with great ideas to promote Islam.[22] She is also known for her support of the leading Sunni Islamist in the world, Yusuf al-Qaradawi,[23] who praised Adolf Hitler in January 2009 in Al-Jazeera TV, aired from Qatar, where he lives.[24]

For Rohde, Iraq Ba’ath party style pan-Arabism failed. He urges the Arab world to look for a stronger and more successful way of pan-Arab ideology and action.[25] He is against the “hegemony of globalization”[26] and refers to Edward Said, Daniel Boyarin and anti-Zionist Jacqueline Rose.[27] Why did Rohde refer to anti-Zionist and antisemitic authors in a doctoral dissertation dedicated to the analysis of Iraq, gender relations and pan-Arabism?

Boyarin and Rose have been analyzed as examples of progressive Jewish antisemitism by scholar in literature and Jewish Studies Alvin H. Rosenfeld in 2006.[28] It is telling that Rohde deleted these references at the very end of his study to Boyarin,[29] Rose and Said in his published book in 2010 on the same topic.[30]

Rohde refers to German historian Jürgen Zimmerer, a leading voice in distorting the Holocaust by universalizing it and framing colonial crimes as forerunners of the Shoah. For Rohde, imperialism, racism, and Orientalism are closely related to Nazi Germany.[31] He also compares German and Nazi “sexual politics” with those of the United States and Israel in the 20th century.[32]

The ZfA, Hazem Saghiyeh and Saleh Bashir and the Universalizing of the Holocaust

Achim Rohde is not a direct Holocaust denier; instead he trivializes and distorts the Shoah by referring to Arab authors like Hazem Saghiyeh and Saleh Bashir. Saghiyeh and Bashir published an article in 1997 in which they argued against Holocaust denial, characterizing it as too stupid an argument to be useful in their fight against Zionism.[33] Indeed, even Said is against hard-core Holocaust denial, but he said in the very same article Rohde refers to that “Zionism” is based on “apartheid.”[34]

The same holds for the article Universalising the Holocaust by Hazem Saghiyeh and Saleh Bashir.[35] They accused Israel of not having learnt the lessons from history; they distorted and trivialized the Shoah completely by equating it with racism and colonialism:

“The dissociation between the acknowledgment of the Holocaust and what Israel is doing should be the starting point for the development of a discourse which says that the Holocaust does not free the Jewish state or the Jews of accountability. On the contrary, the Nazi crime compounds their moral responsibility and exposes them to greater answerability. They are the ones who have escaped the ugliest crime in history, and now they are perpetrating reprehensible deeds against another people. Modern Jewish consciousness can no longer look at the world from the exclusive perspective of the Holocaust, in spite of the magnitude of the event and its enormity. Within these parameters, it becomes pressing to (re)present the event as a trial for human suffering more than a purely and exclusively Jewish one, especially since the Jews in recent decades have started losing their long-standing “monopoly” over the tragic. The Turk in Germany, the Algerian in France, and always the black in every place, head the columns of victims of racism in the world and in them, albeit in different proportions and degrees, is the continuation of the suffering of the Jews of which the Holocaust was the culmination.”[36]

This antisemitic argumentation which universalizes the Holocaust and therefore trivializes it is a basic assumption of Islamic Studies scholar Achim Rohde. For him, like for Saghiyeh and Bashir, Turkish, Algerian or Black people are seen in a “continuation of the suffering of the Jews of which the Holocaust was the culmination.”

This is a denial of the Holocaust if we look at the situation of Turks in Germany or Arabs and Algerians in France at any time. It is unscholarly in nature to equate the situation of immigrants or citizens with an immigrant background and the Holocaust.

In an article in 2005, Rohde thanks[37] anti-Zionist authors Moshe Zuckermann from Israel and German sociologist and anti-Zionist Klaus Holz“[38] for helpful comments and support. Holz was on the short-list for the job as head of the ZfA and Zuckermann knows Schüler-Springorum, too.[39]

For Rohde Zionism is based on „central aspects of modern antisemitism;” for him it is „a kind of identification with the aggressor.”[40] He attacks Israel and remembrance of the Shoah in Israel and urges the Arab and Muslim world not to deny the Holocaust, but to attack “Shoah remembrance in Israel”[41] from a ‘higher ground.’ This ‘higher ground’ is the distortion or trivialization of the Holocaust and not hard-core denial of it.

Achim Rohde and the campaign in support of German anti-Zionist Ludwig Watzal

In December 2008 Rohde supported an Internet campaign by a German anti-Israel and antisemitic website in support of German political scientist and anti-Zionist activist Ludwig Watzal.[42] Secretary General of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, attacked the “antisemitic clichés” of Watzal in April 2008. Then, the Central Council of Jews in Germany pleaded to dismiss Watzal as co-worker of a Federal Agency.[43] Political scientist and expert on Islamism, Iran, and antisemitism, Matthias Küntzel, criticized Watzal in 2005 as well.[44]

In his support of Watzal, Rohde was joined by Palestinian Abdallah Frangi, Ramallah, from the PLO, antisemitic author Norman Finkelstein, left-wing politician Inge Höger, who joined the terrorist Gaza flotilla in 2010 (she was on the Mavi Marmara), and over 300 other anti-Zionist activists, scholars etc. Watzal is a particularly aggressive anti-Zionist voice in Germany. Due to many of his anti-Israel articles, critics like Social Democrat Franziska Drohsel, then head of the youth organization of the Social Democrats in Germany (Jusos), supported Jewish organizations who urged the Federal Agency for Education to take a clear stand against their co-worker Watzal. German daily Die Welt reported about the anti-Israel stand of Watzal.[45] While ZfA co-worker Achim Rohde supported Ludwig Watzal in 2008, even his colleague at the ZfA, Juliane Wetzel, criticized Watzal’s writing and his fantasies about “Jewish capital” and “Jewish power,” according to an article in 2006.[46]

Rohde, Gil Anidjar and poststructuralist,
linguistic Holocaust denial:
Jews were not killed as Jews in Auschwitz…

Rohde also sides with Middle East Studies scholar Gil Anidjar from Columbia University and his study The Jew, The Arab. A History of the Enemy from 2003,[47] because Anidjar equates antisemitism with Orientalism and portrays Muslims as victims of Nazism and the Holocaust.[48] For Anidjar, Zionism is antisemitic, because it aims at Judaism, Jews, Arabs, and Islam. He applies Said’s ideology of the “Semite” and accuses “Orientalism” of being antisemitic, including being anti-Arab.[49] This is a denial of antisemitism, of its term and ideology. Islam has a legacy of antisemitism, although on another level as Christian antisemitism. Portraying Muslims and Arabs as victims of European history is beyond reality. Islam is an imperialist religion, like Christianity. For centuries, Jews have been oppressed and murdered by Christians and also by Arabs and Muslims (on a lower scale). Since 1945 and particularly since 9/11 Islamism and Arab anti-Zionism are the biggest threat to Jews and Israel. Iran seeks nuclear weapons and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is known for his incitement to genocide; he pleads for a “World without Zionism,”[50] and is followed by the entire Iranian regime and substantial parts of Western academia and activists as well. Edward Said fought for a world without Zionism, too, decades before Ahmadinejad, and even before the Iranian revolution in 1979.

 

Anidjar makes fun of Jews and the Holocaust and equates the fate of Jews with the history of the word “Muslim.” For him, like for fashionable Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben Jews died as “Muslims” and not as Jews in Auschwitz.[51] This is linguistic antisemitism. These horrible games with language are mainstream in many poststructuralist, postmodern and antisemitic circles. It is shocking, though, that a scholar from the ZfA refers favorably to this parody of scholarship.

 

In reality Muslims were allies of the Nazis, we know of SS-Imams, Muslims in the German army, the Wehrmacht, SS-units and so on. Rohde follows Anidjar and says that both Jews and Muslims have been victims of Europe since the crusades.[52] In an interview about his book Anidjar rejects any scholarly analysis of the “new antisemitism” and equates antisemitism with racism or the situation of Muslims.[53] In 2009 Anidjar published another article and equated (and mentioned the “link” between) colonialism and the Holocaust;[54] he attacked Israel, the US and the War on Terror, in order to portray the poor and innocent Arabs (and Muslims) as victims of Israel and the US.[55] Already in his 2003 book and then in his 2009 article, Anidjar applied the grotesque distinction between “The Jew, the Arab: good Semite, bad Semite.”[56] Like Edward Said and many protagonists of post-colonial theory, he denies that antisemitism was an anti-Jewish ideology from the very beginning (and not a kind of Orientalism), starting with Wilhelm Marr’s agitation in Germany in 1879.[57] Consequently, Anidjar was a speaker in 2009 at the Israel Apartheid Week and promoted boycotting Israel and therefore Jews.[58] This is no problem and not worth mentioning for German academics like Achim Rohde or Felix Wiedemann, also a scholar from the younger generation; as quoted, Achim Rohde referred to Anidjar very positively in 2005 as well as in 2010, Wiedemann refers to Anidjar’s scandalous book from 2003 (The Jew, The Arab) in 2012, and promotes Rohde’s approach, too, embedded in esoteric, cotton-ball-style criticism.[59]

Conclusion

What is the problem with Achim Rohde’s appointment to Germany’s premier, tax-supported Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at Technical University in Berlin?

 

1) He supports antisemitic, anti-Zionist, post-colonial and post-Orientalist superstar Edward Said;

2)  He supports German anti-Zionist and highly controversial activist Ludwig Watzal;

3) He supports antisemitic, anti-Zionist authors like Daniel Boyarin and Jacqueline Rose;

4) He supports authors who make fun of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, who defame Israel as apartheid and promote the boycott of Israel like Gil Anidjar;

5) He supports the trivialization and in fact denial of the Holocaust by equating it with the situation of Turks in Germany today with reference to Hazem Saghiyeh and Saleh Bashir;

6) He equates antisemitism with “Orientalism” and denies the genocidal ideology of antisemitism;

7) He ignores or affirms the Iranian and Islamist threat;

8) He dwells on the fantasy of “Islamophobia” and is employed to do so by the ZfA.

 

The Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) at the Technical University Berlin should finally change its name: it is

 

The German Edward Said Center for
Holocaust distortion
and post-colonial Antisemitism

 

 



[1] Newsletter, No. 42, Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA), Technical University Berlin, May 2012, http://zfa.kgw.tu-berlin.de/newsletter/Newsletter42.pdf (visited July 21, 2012).

[2] Edward Said (1969): The Palestinian Experience, in: Moustafa Bayoumi/Andrew Rubin (eds.) (2001), The Edward Said Reader, London: Granta Books, 14–37, 34.

[3] Edward Said (1979): Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims, in: Bayoumi/Rubin (eds.) (2001), 114–168.

[4] Edward Said (1978): Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books.

[5] The interview reads: “[Question to Said] Given the history of the Jews and the creation of the Israeli state, because of their historical experience with persecution and suffering and holocaust [small ‚h’ in the original, CH] and death camps, should one feel that Israelis and Jews in general should be more sensitive, should be more compassionate? Is that racist? [Said] No, I don’t think it’s racist. As a Palestinian I keep telling myself that if I were in a position one day to gain political restitution for all the suffering of my people, I would, I think, be extraordinarily sensitive to the possibility that I might in the process be injuring another people“ (Edward Said (1987)/2010: The Pen and the Sword. Conversations with Edward Said. David Barsamian, introductions by Eqbal Ahmad and Nubar Hovsepian, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 42).

[6] Edward Said (1999): An Interview with Edward Said, in: Bayoumi/Rubin (eds.) (2001), 419–444, 430.

[7] In Cultural Studies, Islamic Studies, Middle East Studies, comparative literature and related fields, Said has been mainstream for a long time. See, for example, among his followers in Germany Markus Schmitz (2008): Kulturkritik ohne Zentrum. Edward W. Said und die Kontrapunkte kritischer Dekolonisation, Bielefeld: transcript (Schmitz defames the Middle East Forum’s project Campus Watch and says it is a reminder to the times of “McCarthy,” ibid., 227); Stefan Wild (2003a): Rezension von Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand. The Failure of MiddleEastern Studies in America, Washington D.C. 2001, ISBN 0-94 4029-49-3, 130 S., U.S. $ 19,95, Die Welt des Islams, Vol. 43, Nr. 2, 290–292 (this is a particularly aggressive and ironic review of Martin Kramer’s famous study Ivory Towers on Sand from 2001); Birgit Schäbler (2008): Post-koloniale Konstruktionen des Selbst als Wissenschaft: Anmerkungen einer Nahost-Historikerin zu Leben und Werk Edward Saids, in: Alf Lüdtke/Reiner Prass (Hg.) (2008): Gelehrtenleben. Wissenschaftspraxis in der Neuzeit, Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 87–100; Schäbler is an anti-Israel author and defamed the security fence in Israel, Birgit Schäbler/Ute Behr/Stephanie Dumke (2004): The Israel-Palestinian Conflict as Result of Colonial Border-Making, Tagungsbericht, June 18, 2004, http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungsberichte/id=499 (visited July 23, 2012); Stefan Weidner (2011): Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Islamkritik für das Leben, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), Nrs. 13–14/2011, 9–15; for historian Ulrich Sieg, who was on the short-list for the job as head of the ZfA, Edward Said’s Orientalism was a „master-piece,“ Ulrich Sieg (2006): Rezension von Ian Buruma, Avishai Margali, Okzidentalismus. Der Westen in den Augen seiner Feinde, WerkstattGeschichte, Vol. 15, No. 43, 137–139, 137.

[8] Achim Rohde (2010): Unter Südländern. Zur Geschichte der Orientalistik und Judaistik in Deutschland, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Vol. 58, No. 7/8, 639–652. Benz edited this issue personally, in addition he is the editor of the journal, too; he introduced Rohde in his article in that issue, Wolfgang Benz (2010): Zur Genese und Tradition des Feindbildes Islam. Einleitende Bemerkungen zum Themenheft Islambilder vom Mittelalter bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg. Traditionen der Abwehr, Romantisierung, Exotisierung, Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Vol. 58, No. 7/8, 585–590.

[9] Robert S. Wistrich (1991): Antisemitism. The Longest Hatred, London: Methuen.

[10] Robert S. Wistrich (2010): A Lethal Obsession. Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, New York: Random House.

[11] Fritz Ahmad Gross (no year of publication indicated): Kaiser Wilhelm II. – Deutschland und der Islam, Islamische Zeitung, online http://www.enfal.de/grund44.htm (visited July 22, 2012).

[12] Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (2003): Djihad „Made in Germany“: Der Streit um den Heiligen Krieg 1914–1915, Sozial.Geschichte, No. 2/2003, 7–34; Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (2004): Die Berliner Djihadisierung des Islam. Wie Max von Oppenheim die islamische Revolution schürte, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Auslandsinformationen, No. 10/2004, 17–37; Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (2004a): Max von Oppenheim und der Heilige Krieg. Zwei Denkschriften zur Revolutionierung islamischer Gebiete 1914 und 1940, Sozial.Geschichte, Vol. 19, No. 3, 28–59.

[13] Jeffrey Herf (2009): Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World, New Haven: Yale University Press; Jeffrey Herf (2010): Hitlers Dschihad. Nationalsozialistische Rundfunkpropaganda für Nordafrika und den Nahen Osten, Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 58, No. 2, 259–286; Matthias Küntzel (2002): Jihad und Judenhaß. Über den neuen antijüdischen Krieg, Freiburg: ça ira; Matthias Küntzel (2003): Ein Deutsches Schweigen. Die Vorfahren der islamischen Hamas arbeiteten gern mit den Nazis zusammen. Ein Umstand, den die deutsche Linke in ihrer Nahostsolidarität gerne ausblendet, taz, April 12, 2003, http://www.taz.de/?id=archiv&dig=2003/04/12/a0225 (visited July 23, 2012); Matthias Küntzel (2004): Von Zeesen bis Beirut. Nationalsozialismus und Antisemitismus in der arabischen Welt, http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/von-zeesen-bis-beirut (visited July 23, 2012); Klaus-Michael Mallman/Martin Cüppers (2010): Nazi Palestine. The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine, New York: Enigma Books.

[14] Simon Wiesenthal (1947): Großmufti – Großagent der Achse, Salzburg/Wien: Ried-Verlag.

[15] Hans Lindemann (1941): Der Islam im Aufbruch, in Abwehr und Angriff. Mit 1 Karte und 4 Kunstdrucktafeln, Leipzig: Friedrich Brandstetter.

[16] American Jewish Committee (1957): The Plight of the Jews in Egypt, New York: American Jewish Committee, online: http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/551.PDF (visited July 23, 2012).

[17] “The most prominent of these former collaborators of Hitler and Goebbels was the notorious antisemite Johann von Leers, invited to Cairo by Haj Amin el-Husseini. Von Leers had initially settled after the war in the Argentine where he edited the neo-Nazi monthly Der Weg. The Grand Mufti had repeatedly sent messages of encouragement to von Leers and his fellow Nazis in Buenos Aires and in August 1956 he had publicly complimented Der Weg for having ‚always championed the Arabs’ righteous cause against the powers of darkness embodied in World Jewry’’. An exalted figure in Nasser’s entourage, the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem obtained a post for von Leers as political adviser in the Egyptian Information Department, where, according to the Manchester Guardian, he exercised ‚considerable influence on the nature of the current anti-Jewish measures’. Von Leers continued to be active as an antisemitic propagandist in Cairo under his Muslim name, Omar Amin, until his death in 1965,” (Robert Wistrich (1985): Hitler’s Apocalypse. Jews and the Nazi Legacy, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 176).

[18] Ian Johnson (2005): The Beachhead. How a Mosque for Ex-Nazis became Center for Radical Islam, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2005; Ian Johnson (2010): A Mosque in Munich. Nazis, the CIA and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, San Diego (CA): Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

[19] Stefan Meining (2011): Eine Moschee in Deutschland. Nazis, Geheimdienste und der Aufstieg des politischen Islam im Westen, Munich: C.H.Beck.

[20] For a comprehensive critique of German Islamic Studies, scholars in antisemitism and the public in Germany after 9/11 see my book Clemens Heni (2011): Schadenfreude: Islamforschung und Antisemitismus in Deutschland nach 9/11, Berlin: Edition Critic.

[21] Achim Rohde (2006): Facing Dictatorship. State-Society Relations in Ba’Thist Iraq. Zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades eingereicht am Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin im April 2006, manuscript, Free University Berlin, Institute for Islamic Studies.

[22] Gudrun Krämer (2010): Hasan al-Banna, Oxford/New York: Oneworld Publications.

[23] Gudrun Krämer (2006): Drawing Boundaries. Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Apostasy, in: Gudrun Krämer/Sabine Schmidtke (eds.) (2006): Speaking for Islam. Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 181–217; Gudrun Krämer (2009): Preface, in: Bettina Gräf/Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (eds.) (2009): Global Mufti. The Phenomenon of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, London: Hurst & Company (2009), ix–xi.

[24] For an overview on many more antisemitic statements of al-Qaradawi see http://www.memri.org/report/en/print5020.htm (visited July 23, 2012).

[25] Rohde 2006, 425; see also Achim Rohde (2005): Der Innere Orient. Orientalismus, Antisemitismus und Geschlecht im Deutschland des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts, Die Welt des Islams, Vol. 45, Nr. 2, 370–411; Achim Rohde (2009): The Orient Within. Orientalism, Anti-Semitism and Gender in 18th to early 20th Century Germany, in: Benjamin Jokisch/Ulrich Rebstock/Lawrence I. Conrad (eds.) (2009): Fremde, Feinde und Kurioses. Innen- und Außenansichten unseres muslimischen Nachbarn, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 147–165; Achim Rohde (2010a): State-Society Relations in Ba’Thist Iraq Facing Dictatorship, London/New York: Routledge (this is his shortened 2006 dissertation).

[26] Rohde 2006, 425.

[27] See footnote 12 (which belongs to the chapter „Conclusions“), Rohde 2006, 428: „Edward Said, Freud and the Non-European (London: Verso, 2003), 49, 53/54. See also Stephen Sheehi, ‚Failure, Modernity, and the Works of Hisham Sharabi: Towards a Post-Colonial Critique of Arab Subjectivity,’ Critique 10 (1997): 39–54; Daniel Boyarin, ‚The Colonial Drag: Zionism, Gender, and Mimikry,’ in the Pre-Occupation of Post-Colonial Studies, eds. Fawzia Afzal-Khan and Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (Durham/London: Duke Univ. Press, 2000), 234–265; Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2005).“ Remember: these are quotes from the end of Rohde’s doctoral dissertation, which is about Iraqi history, gender relations, dictatorship and pan-Arabism. He quotes antisemites in such a study: this indicates his hatred of Israel as a Jewish state.

[28] Alvin H. Rosenfeld (2006): „Progressive“ Jewish Thought and the new anti-Semitism, http://www.ajc.org/atf/cf/%7B42D75369-D582-4380-8395-D25925B85EAF%7D/PRO
GRESSIVE_JEWISH_THOUGHT.PDF  (visited July 22, 2012).

[29] Rohde refers to above quoted article of Daniel Boyarin; the dedication of Boyarin’s article reads like this: „To Michel Warschawsky and Tikva Parnas, tireless fighters against the Zionist occupation in all Palestine,” (Daniel Boyarin (2000): ‚The Colonial Drag: Zionism, Gender, and Mimikry,’ in: Fawzia Afzal-Khan/Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (eds.) (2000): The Pre-Occupation of Post-Colonial Studies, Durham/London: Duke University Press, 234–265, 234). The expression „All Palestine” aims at the destruction of Israel. Furthermore one can find the close relationship of antisemites like Boyarin and post-colonial superstars like Bhabha, who share this antisemitism: „I wish to express gratitude to Homi K. Bhabha, who read a much earlier and a very recent version of this essay and whose influence is felt on every page, even where I have not been able to assimilate it completely,” (Boyarin 2000, 259).

[30] Rohde 2010a, 161.

[31] See Rohde 2005, 389, footnote 40, reference to Zimmerer. For a close analysis of the scholarly failure of Jürgen Zimmerer see Jakob Zollmann (2007): Polemics and other arguments – a German debate reviewed, Journal of Namibian Studies, [Vol. 1], No. 1, 109–130 and my forthcoming book Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon.

[32] Rohde 2010a, 209, footnote 84.

[33] Rohde 2010a, 213, footnote 4.

[34] Edward Said (1998): Der dritte Weg führt weiter. An die arabischen Unterstützer von Roger Garaudy, Le Monde Diplomatique, German version: http://www.monde-diplomatique.de/pm/1998/08/14/a0226.text.name,askOg6bPY.n,36 (visited July 23, 2012).

[35] Hazem Saghiyeh/Saleh Bashir (1997)/1998: Universalizing the Holocaust. How Arabs and Palestinians relate to the Holocaust and how the Jews relate to the Palestinian victim, Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 5, Nos. 3 & 4, 1998, online: http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=382 (visited July 22, 2012). The Arab original has been published in 1997.

[36] Saghiyeh/Bashir 1997.

[37] Rohde 2005, Rohde 2009.

[38] Rohde 2005, 370, footnote 1.

[39] For example, Schüler-Springorum and Zuckermann were part of a small symposium in Berlin in May 2010, http://www.jmberlin.de/main/DE/02-Veranstaltungen/veranstaltungen-2010/2010_05_22_symposium.php (visited July 22, 2012).

[40] Rohde 2005, 410.

[41] Rohde 2005, 411.

[42] http://www.arendt-art.de/deutsch/palestina/Honestly_Concerned/watzal_ludwig_aktion.htm (visited July 21, 2012): „307 Dr. Achim Rohde D Hamburg wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Georg-Eckert-Institut für internationale Schulbuchforschung.“

[43] „Zentralrat fordert Entlassung eines Redakteurs der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung,“ April 5, 2008,  http://www.zentralratdjuden.de/de/article/1625.html (visited July 22, 2012).

[44] http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/tag-watzal-darf-ich-sie-antisemit-nennen (visited July 22, 2012).

[45] Richard Herzinger (2008): Mitarbeiter schreibt israelfeindliche Texte. Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, Die Welt, April 10, 2008, http://www.welt.de/politik/article1885758/Mitarbeiter
_schreibt_israelfeindliche_Texte.html (visited July 23, 2012).

[46] Alexandra Makarova (2006): Neutrales Haus in Erklärungsnot. Bei der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung häufen sich Israel-kritische Peinlichkeiten, June 2006, http://www.j-zeit.de/archiv/artikel.361.html (visited July 22, 2012).

[47] Gil Anidjar (2003): The Jew, The Arab. A History of the Enemy, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

[48] Rohde refers several times to Anidjar, see Rohde 2010, 645 (with reference to Anidjar 2003); Rohde 2005, 385, 400f.

[49] Anidjar 2003, 192–193, endnote 51.

[50] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005): Speech at the Conference „A World Without Zionism,“ October 26, 2005, Teheran, translation by Nazila Fathi, New York Times, 30.10.2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/30/weekinreview/30iran.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 (visited July 23, 2012).

[51] Gil Anidjar (2003a): Interview „The Jew, the Arab,” http://asiasociety.org/countries/religions-philosophies/jew-arab-interview-gil-anidjar (visited July 22, 2012).

[52] Rohde 2010, 645.

[53] Anidjar 2003.

[54] Gil Anidjar (2009): Can the walls hear?, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 43, Nos. 3/4, 251–268, 266.

[55] Anidjar 2009, 267.

[56] Anidjar 2009, 255.

[57] Wilhelm Marr (1879): Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet, Bern: Rudolph Costenoble; Wilhelm Marr (1879a): Vom jüdischen Kriegsschauplatz. Eine Streitschrift, Bern: Rudolph Costenoble.

[58] „At Columbia University (CU), a recently formed group called the Columbia Palestine Forum (CPF) hosted a teach-in on March 4 that featured CU professors and students that are members of CPF, a group advocating for the university to divest from Israel. Speakers compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to apartheid in South Africa and one professor, Gil Anidjar, an Assistant Professor in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department, advocated for a boycott as an ‚exercise of freedom‘“ (http://www.adl.org/NR/exeres/2F101AAE-F472-450F-8C13-53825A79D075,DB7611A2-02CD-43AF-8147-649E26813571,frameless.htm (04.08.2010)).

[59] It is disturbing and problematic that historian Felix Wiedemann refers to Anidjar 2003 positively, without the slightest analysis of his antisemitism. In an overview article for a online encyclopedia about Edward Said, Orientalism, and the Orientalism debate, Wiedemann also sides with Achim Rohde, Felix Wiedemann (2012): Orientalismus, Version: 1.0, in: Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte, April 19, 2012, https://docupedia.de/zg/Orientalismus?oldid=82032#cite_ref-69 (visited July 23, 2012). Wiedemann ignores one of the most updated overviews on Edward Said, a critique of Said’s antisemitism, and particularly the portrayal of Muslims and Arabs as the new Jews, an ideology of Said from the late 1960s (if not earlier): Heni 2011, 76–136. The most shocking aspect of Wiedemann’s piece, though, is his positive reference to antisemite and anti-Israel activist Gil Anidjar. Wiedemann is also not mentioning the antisemitic ideology of Said in its entirety, although he pretends to be a bit skeptical about him; he does quote a few other works of Said than Orientalism but does not mention that Said introduced the concept of Arabs as the ‘new Jews’ as early as 1969, a core element of today’s antisemitism and anti-Zionism and distortion of history. It is remarkable that a young historian like Wiedemann does not even mention that Said equated Israel with apartheid (although, in a completely other context, apartheid South Africa is mentioned in Wiedemann’s piece!), for example. Following an antisemitic author like Gil Anidjar is indicating a failure of scholarship.

The ‘Anti-Semitism Expert’ and His Nazi Mentor

Original on pjmedia, January 26, 2010

In December 2008, Berlin’s influential Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism came in for sharp criticism for holding a conference titled “Conceptions of the Muslim as Enemy — Conceptions of the Jew as Enemy.” Critics accused the center and its director, Wolfgang Benz, of equating contemporary “Islamophobia” with historical anti-Semitism.

In response, Benz would insist that he had never proposed any such equivalence. But, as detailed in my Pajamas Media report here, the wording of Benz’s preface to the 2008 edition of the Center’s yearbook makes clear that he was doing literally and precisely that. For Benz, “Islamophobia” was, in effect, the newest form of the “oldest hatred.” In the meanwhile, Benz has continued to defend his analysis. Thus, earlier this month, he published a new article in Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung on the alleged “parallels” between “Anti-Semites and the Enemies of Islam.”

Now, the German political scientist Clemens Heni has called attention to research revealing that Benz’s dissertation director, the historian Karl Bosl, was a committed Nazi who as late as January 1945 participated in a conference held at the birthplace of Adolf Hitler in the Austrian town of Braunau am Inn. Moreover, Bosl’s own intellectual mentor, Karl Alexander von Müller, was not only a Nazi, but indeed a personal acquaintance of Hitler and the brother-in-law of none other than Gottfried Feder: one of the founders and chief ideologues of what would become the National Socialist party.

John Rosenthal

The Bavarian historian Karl Bosl (1908-1993) is still honored in Germany today. Bosl is honored in Germany even though he was a member of the National Socialist party, as well as of other Nazi organizations like the paramilitary SA and the National Socialist Teachers Association, and despite the fact that he collaborated with the SS’s infamous research institute, the “Ahnenerbe.”

Thus, on November 11, 2008, a “Prof.-Dr.-Karl Bosl Square” was dedicated in the Bavarian town of Cham. On July 6, 2009, the Bavarian Philologists Association for the first time awarded its new “Karl-Bosl-Medal.” One of those to honor Bosl is Wolfgang Benz, the director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism (ZfA) at the Technical University in Berlin. As the publicity materials for a November 2009 lecture by Benz remind us, Benz wrote his doctoral thesis under Bosl’s direction. He defended the thesis in 1968. Twenty years later, in 1988, Benz contributed an essay to a Festschrift published in Bosl’s honor on the occasion of the latter’s eightieth birthday.

Is Karl Bosl a respectable German scholar who merits the high esteem in which he appears to be held by his student Wolfgang Benz? Let us consider some of the details of Bosl’s career in the Third Reich.

In an essay that was published in the year 2000, the historian Bernd-A. Rusinek notes that in 1938 Bosl submitted an application to participate in a project sponsored by the SS’s “German Ancestral Heritage Society” or “Ahnenerbe.” The “Ahnenerbe” was, in effect, the “research” arm of the SS, devoted to providing a pseudo-scientific foundation to the Nazis’ myth of “Aryan” superiority. The project for which Bosl applied was titled “Forest and Tree in Aryan-Germanic Spiritual and Cultural History.” Bosl’s application was accepted. According to Rusinek, Bosl was one of several “National Socialist hardliners” to participate in the SS project.

In January 1945, Bosl participated in what Rusinek has called “presumably the last historians conference of the ‘Third Reich.’” “The conference … took place on the 16th and 17th [of January] in Braunau am Inn,” Rusinek writes, “in the very house in which the ‘Führer’ was born.” Rusinek concludes: “As judged by Bosl’s own statements, by the assessment of the SD [the SS intelligence service or “Sicherheitsdienst”], as well as by his activities, everything points to the fact that he was a convinced National Socialist all the way up till Spring 1945.”

In an interview that was conducted in 1990, Bosl was asked about the Nazi period. In response, he went so far as to present himself as part of the resistance. He kept silent about his membership in the Nazi party and the other Nazi organizations and he said nothing about his collaboration in the project sponsored by the SS-Ahnenerbe. “In fact, I passed these formative years quietly,” Bosl said,

I withdrew into myself, since I had been very strongly influenced by the anti-Hitler attitude of my parents. And I worked on my doctoral thesis. I was not around anywhere in those years. I worked on my doctoral thesis. And then, in 1938, I obtained my doctorate and, as that went very well, I immediately decided to ask Karl Alexander von Müller to direct my habilitation.

The “habilitation” is the highest qualification that can be obtained in the German academic system. Bosl proudly refers to his association with Karl Alexander von Müller. As it so happens, von Müller was a highly influential academic at the time — and a National Socialist. He had been a personal acquaintance of Hitler since the early 1920s and he was the brother-in-law of Gottfried Feder, one of the early ideologues of the Nazi movement.

In her 2005 study “Im Schatten des Dritten Reichs,” the historian Anne Christine Nagel writes about Bosl:

Bosl joined the NSDAP [the Nazi party] in 1933 and he joined the SA at the same time. In 1934, he added membership in the NSLB [the National Socialist Teachers Association]. …Contrary to his self-representation, Bosl did anything but take his distance from the regime after the Nazis’ seizure of power. As a member of the party from the very first hours [of the Nazi regime] … and as the director of various seminars on questions of national politics, he was notably active in militating for the goals of National Socialism. …For years, he played a leading role in the National Socialist Teachers Association.

Wolfgang Benz is one of Germany’s best known historians of National Socialism and a frequent commentator in the German media on Germany’s troubled relation to its Nazi past. But it would seem that for over forty years, he himself kept silent about the Nazi career of his dissertation director Karl Bosl.

Today, Benz minimizes the danger of Islamic anti-Semitism and of Islamic jihad as such. He has even gone so far as to equate anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia.” He thus not only displays a completely false assessment of the contemporary political situation. He also relativizes the singularity of the Nazis’ mass murder of European Jews and implicitly encourages a new form of historical revisionism.

How seriously can one take an “anti-Semitism expert” and director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism who commemorates the history of Nazi anti-Semitism, but whose memory fails as soon as it is a matter of his own personal history?

The above article is adapted from an article that first appeared in German. The English translation is by John Rosenthal.

 

Anti-Semitism is not the same as Islamophobia

This article was first published with the Jerusalem Post, December 3, 2008

The Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) of the Technical University in Berlin has scheduled a conference on December 8 titled “The concept of the enemy Muslim – concept of the enemy Jew.” In publicity for this conference the ZfA writes that the “paradigm” of accusations against Muslims is known from “the history of anti-Semitism.”

It seems that the organizers feel there is a moral equivalence between garden-variety prejudice (portrayed as “Islamophobia”) and anti-Semitism. This is a dangerous course, particularly in Germany, which saw the quintessential manifestation of anti-Semitism in modern times.

Quite aside from the fact that Judaism embraces both a race and a religion, whereas Islam is strictly a religion, anti-Semitism is different than other forms of prejudice or racism. Whereas the racist view of blacks, for example, holds that they are “below” whites, anti-Semites think Jews are planning to rule the world. The Israel Lobby by American academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt is just one example of this viewpoint. Anti-Semitism was the motif for the Holocaust.

Those unprecedented crimes combined religious Jew-hatred, quasi-scientific racial theories, and modern anti-Semitism in all its forms, including a comprehensive worldview. It is the anti-Semitic worldview that distinguishes anti-Semitism from racism. This irrationality on a global scale is hardly new. As early as 1543, Martin Luther blamed the Jews for almost every evil on earth. Later, during the early 20th century, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion appeared. This poor Russian forgery had a significant impact on German and European thought, and is now a hot item in the Muslim world. In it, Jews are not portrayed as second-class human beings, as in other racist thinking. On the contrary, they are seen as would-be lords of the world – an evil, unseen power behind everything.

The Protocols contend that Jews run the media, organize wars and establish or control national financial systems. One of its more overtly bizarre claims is that Jews organize the construction of subways (which were novelties in New York or London at that time) in order to literally undermine societies. No other group of people has ever been blamed for such a welter of “evils” – capitalism, communism, liberalism and humanism. None of these anti-Semitic accusations are used against Muslims today. In fact, Islamic terrorists use these very canards in an attempt to justify their anti-Jewish actions.

RACISM HAS a rational dimension; its use to justify exploitation is one central purpose. Anti-Semitism, with its irrational, implacably genocidal dimension, is totally different. Furthermore, there are some Islamicists who openly advocate the takeover of Europe, the West and the world. The nonsense in the Protocols notwithstanding, the Jews have never had or claimed such a goal.

To equate anti-Semitism with racism, let alone to try and draw a parallel with the term Islamophobia (a word invented by the Islamic Republic of Iran), is therefore dangerous. It has nothing to do with scholarly research, nor with an accurate examination of the real and significant threats posed by Islamic Jihad. A center for the study of anti-Semitism should be aware of these facts, and not equate anti-Semitism with Islamophobia or other forms of prejudice.

That kind of postmodern relativist philosophy is just another way of refusing to research anti-Semitism as a phenomenon sui generis. The Center for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) and its director Prof. Wolfgang Benz, if they really believe Muslims in contemporary Germany are threatened like the Jews were, are badly misinformed. If the ZfA equates anti-Semitism with criticism of Islamic Jihad, this would signal the end of serious research on either subject at that center.

The writer is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

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