Clemens Heni

Wissenschaft und Publizistik als Kritik

Schlagwort: Jewish Museum Berlin

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How German is the Jewish Museum Berlin?

Von Dr. Clemens Heni, 27. Januar 2019

Times of Israel (Blogs)

Currently, the “Jewish” Museum Berlin is criticized for its distorting of Jerusalem and the Jewish impact on Jerusalem. Volker Beck (The Greens), longtime MP (1994–2017) and former head of the German-Israel Group of Parliamentarians in the German Bundestag (2013–2017), on January 25, 2019, writes in the weekly Die Zeit about an exhibition in the Jewish Museum about “Jerusalem.” The exhibition downgrades the Jewish role of Jerusalem while embracing the Arab or Palestinian narrative. It distorts the Jewish history of that city, but devotes much space to the al-Husseini family, for example, without even mentioning the pro-Nazi approach of Jerusalem Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini.

Then, according to Beck, the museum promotes three groups of particular pious Jewish groups – Neturei Karta, Ne’emanei Har ha-Bayt and Women’s of the Wall. As if antisemitic Jews who collaborate with Holocaust deniers and Iran like Neturei Karta have anything to say about believing Jews. Beck focuses on both what the exhibition shows and what it does not show and say. It shows the “Nakba” and ignores the “600.000” Jews who had to flee Arab states after 1948. This pro-Arab and rather anti-Jewish outline of that exhibition is just the latest scandal of this huge German national institution.

In recent months and years, many journalists and scholars have criticized the Jewish Museum Berlin. However, in a truly unprofessional, if not nasty 3 minutes report in a leading news show on German TV, “Heute Journal” of the Second Channel ZDF on January 17, 2019, they defame criticism of that exhibition and of the Jewish Museum as such. The report interviews the head of the Jewish Museum, Peter Schaefer, who is not Jewish. He denounces critics and blames them to support the Netanyahu government. Netanyahu had criticized the Museum’s anti-Zionist stance, which was for sure not very smart. As if critics of the Jewish Museum depend on Netanyahu!

I myself, for example, am a long-time critic of the Jewish Museum and their pro-Islam as well as post- or anti-Zionist agenda in recent years. I am also known as critic of Netanyahu and his right-wing politics, I even lost my job ad editor-in-chief of a small Jewish monthly, the Juedische Rundschau, in 2014 due to my criticism of Bibi on Facebook. Then, I criticized Netanyahu in 2017 in a foreword to a German translation (which I did alongside with my friend and colleague, Arabist, political scientist and Orientalist Michael Kreutz) of the book “The Israeli Nation-State”, co-edited by Fania Oz-Salzberger and Yedidia Z. Stern, both promote the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and are known as fierce critics of Netanyahu.

Michael Wuliger of the leading Jewish weekly in Germany, the Juedische Allgemeine, published by the Central Council of Jews in Germany (“Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland”), attacks the Jewish museum in an article on January 24, 2019. He analyzes the failure of the Jewish Museum Berlin’s head Peter Schaefer, who is a historian of ancient times. Schaefer is responsible for all the distortions in that exhibition and much more, for the post- or anti-Zionist outlook of the entire institution.

That became clear in summer last year, when the Jewish Museum announced an event with pro-BDS author Sa’ed Atshan from the US, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem. After criticism, the event was not cancelled but took place at another troubling Berlin institution, the ICI (Institute for Cultural Inquiry), with the very same moderator as planned by the Jewish Museum, Katharina Galor, an archeologist. I deal with this and many other historical and contemporary aspects of antisemitism in my new book, “The Complex Antisemitism” (in German).

Another event by the Jewish Museum took place in fall 2018, about “Islamophobia”, organized by Yasemin Shooman, a Muslim co-worker at the museum, who wrote her PhD at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technical University Berlin (ZfA) under the auspices of controversial historian Wolfgang Benz, then head of the ZfA. Benz had honored his own PhD advisor from 1968, Karl Bosl, like in 1988, when Bosl (1908–1993) turned 80 years old. In 2009, Benz mentioned Bosl in the announcement material for a lecture. Bosl was a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and was paid by a project of the “Ahnenerbe” of the SS (Schutzstaffel) – the SS was a central organization in the Shoah.

Bosl took place in the last conference of Nazi historians mid-January 1945 – that event took place in the birthplace of the “Führer” Hitler himself, in Braunau am Inn (today: Austria), to emphasize the solidarity of these historians with the “Führer”. After 1945, Bosl was still active in antisemitic circles, in 1964 he compared the expulsion of Germans from the East to the Holocaust, embraced antisemitic elements of German history like Ernst Moritz Arndt and spoke at the grave of another former full-time Nazi, Theodor Mayer, in November 1972.

A Jewish Museum’s event in fall 2018 – Living with Islamophobia – announced Moustafa Bayoumi, a strong anti-Israel activist, who did a book on the jihadist ship Mavi Marmara from 2010. Other participants of that event were no less troubling and known for their anti-Zionist politics or the downplaying if not affirmation of Islamism, like Naika Foroutan. In her doctoral dissertation she embraced then Iranian President Chatami (who called Israel a “cancerous tumor”) and framed then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as “state terrorist.” This was the start of a wonderful career of Foroutan in German academia.

Journalist Alan Posener criticized that event in September 2018 in the daily Die Welt. He writes about the coming new main exhibition at the Jewish Museum, which will open by the end of 2019. What seems to be clear so far is the fact, that there will be no special room dedicated to Zionism, one of the most important aspect of Jewish history since the late 19th century. Of course, Zionism will not be completely ignored, but will play a minor role in that new main exhibition.

On the other side, Schaefer emphasizes the role of a “Jewish-Muslim Forum”. Ignoring Islamism is a core element of Schaefer’s ideology, following Shooman, who even publicly attacks the representative of the Jewish Community Berlin for the fight against antisemitism due to his criticism of Muslim antisemitism and a particular dangerous Islamist institution in Berlin. Shooman published her article in 2018 in a Jewish journal called “Jalta,” made by and dedicated to post- and anti-Zionist Jews.

The connection of the Center for Research on Antisemitism and the Jewish Museum is of great importance. In 2013, for example, they both organized an event with British anti-Israel activist Brian Klug, despite international criticism, organized by my center, the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA). Shooman is among the most controversial co-workers at the Jewish Museum Berlin, as her downplaying of the Islamist threat, the fantasy of Jewish-Muslim cooperation and her anti-Israel stance are obvious.

Many in Israel or the US might think that a Jewish Museum is both pro-Jewish and run by Jews. Not so in Germany. The best known Jewish Museum in Germany is the Jewish Museum Berlin. It is mainly funded (some 75 percent) by the German federal government and its Representative for Culture and Media, Monika Gruetters (CDU, Christian Democratic Union).

But there is much more to say about the “Jewish” Museum Berlin.

Already at the opening of the Museum in 2001, the German nationalist impact of the museum became clear. Journalist Henryk M. Broder attended that event and wrote about it. He analyzed the distortions of the event like the omission of portrays of several of the most famous German Jews, including Rosa Luxemburg, the Communist who was killed on January 15, 1919, Karl Marx, Jakob Wassermann or Gershom Scholem, the Zionist who left the Weimar Republic in 1923 for Palestine and criticized the “myth of German-Jewish symbiosis”.

This myth, though, was at the core of the opening exhibition as Broder wrote. He also focused on the entry of the museum in 2001, where at the opening gala with 850 VIP guests a blackboard out of glass with the names of leading German banks, industrial companies and individuals greeted the audience. That blackboard indicated, for whom the entire Jewish Museum Berlin was made for: Germans, to be absolved of their crimes of the Holocaust, to promote themselves as the new and real heroes of morality in the 21st century.

The German government and Gruetters are also funding the Barenboim-Said Academy in the heart of Berlin, vis-à-vis the Foreign Ministry. Thomas Weidauer and I criticized that institution in June 2015, when the roofing ceremony took place. It is named after Edward Said, a leading antisemitic and post-Orientalist author with immense influence among anti-Zionist academics around the world. Daniel Barenboim was not only a friend of Said, but is also an ally of Said’s widow Mariam Said. She has close connections to the BDS movement, in 2010 she defended the work of the West-Eastern-Divan-Orchestra (WEDO) by Barenboim at the hardcore anti-Zionist page “Electronic Intifada”. Mariam Said claims that WEDO is part of the very same battle against the Jewish state than others in the broad BDS camp.

Gruetters and the German federal government are world champions in hypocrisy and claptrap – publicly they denounce the BDS movement, but internally they are funding pro-BDS institutions or museums that downplay the Islamism threat or promote the fake Jewish-Muslim collaboration.

It is an imposition for Zionist scholars to need to go to the Jewish Museum Berlin’s Blumenthal Academy to study Hachschara and the Chaluzim, who prepared for Aliyah in the mid and late 1930s, to escape Nazi Germany and to help establishing a secure haven for Jews in the Middle East. When I was employed at the University of Hannover at the Center of Garden Art and Landscape Architecture (CGL) in 2015 in a project about landscape architecture, Zionism and Hachschara, I went to the Jewish Museum’s Blumenthal academy. They hold a wonderful body of original sources, including letters, brochures, booklets and books, pictures and the like from the Zionist movement in Germany. For example, I discovered a letter dated July 5, 1938, from a Kibbutz in the region of Thuringia, “Kibbutz Mitteldeutschland und Thüringen,” where the author is very happy that his friend will be allowed to join youth Aliyah.

The Jewish Museum Berlin is a German institution. It is dedicated to German ideology. This ideology is based on the fantasy, that Germany and Germany alone is the superstar of morality in the 21st century. No one killed so consequently the Jews than the Germans did. And no one remembers the Holocaust like the Germans. That is the one and only reason, why the German state is funding this institution. They employ and invite Muslim, Jewish and other anti-Israel people, invite pro-BDS agitators, and organize exhibitions that distort the Jewish connection to the city of Jerusalem.

Since when translates “old” into “wise”? Peter Schaefer is an old man (born 1943) and may not know what BDS or the three D’s stand for (Demonization, Double Standard, Delegitimization). On the other hand, he might know that very well. Finally, in the interview with the German TV he uses the antisemitic conspiracy myth of “foreign” influence on Germany (like the stupid intervention by Bibi). He ignores German critics, both Jewish and non-Jewish ones.

In 2012, the Jewish Museum Berlin hosted leading anti-Zionist superstar from California, Judith Butler, who spoke with pedagogue Micha Brumlik, himself a diaspora oriented anti-Zionist who always emphasizes that he is supposedly against antisemitism (like the Iranian threat). The house was packed.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, the day when the Soviet Red Army liberated Auschwitz and the few survivors there. It is time to stop the hype about the “Jewish” Museum Berlin. It is a German National Museum as well as an anti-Jewish Museum. Survivors and their relatives should think twice before giving their historical documents to that institution, for example. Tourists should be aware that the name “Jewish” does not mean that it is a pro-Jewish institution.

Dedicated in honor of Michael’s birthday

©ClemensHeni

Does Germany need just another Islamist, anti-Israel and antisemitic infusion by John L. Esposito?

By Clemens Heni

75 year old John L. Esposito, Georgetown University’s Director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., will be the keynote speaker of a big conference in Germany, Jan 14–16, 2016, about „anti-Muslim racism and hostility towards Islam in Germany and Europe.“

The conference will take place at the University of Osnabrück in the North-West of Germany, over forty speakers are invited to speak. The event is organized by the “Center for Islamic Theology,” and supported by the German Federal Government and its Ministry of Education and Research, Lower Saxony’s Ministry for Research and Culture, and the Post Graduate Program Islamic Theology.

This Center for Islamic Theology is headed by Bülent Ucar, who is the main organizer of the event alongside with his co-worker, Nina Mühe, an anthropologist and Islamic studies scholar known for her attack on Berlin’s Anti-Hijab Law in classroom. Mühe is a former fellow at a German branch of George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

Obviously, attacks like the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacre in Paris in January 2015 are a “reason” for many academics in the humanities and social sciences to focus on an alleged “anti-Muslim racism‟ and not on Jihad, Islamism, Muslim anti-Semitism and Muslim terrorists. This is mainstream in Europe and the Western world ever since 9/11. We are facing in part a racist and nationalist climate in Germany, indeed. But this has nothing to do with the rejection of most academics in the field of Islamic Studies to deal, let alone fight Islamism in all its forms. The true antifascism of the 21st century deals with both the neo-Nazi and Islamist threats.

In his book “Who Speaks for Islam?” (2007, together with Dalia Mogahed), Esposito used the equivalence of anti-Semitism and “Islamophobia.” In his distorted view, Jews aren’t but a “religion” and just one of two “religions with Semitic origins.” In fact, hatred of Jews is a worldwide ideology, while “Islamophobia” is rather an invention by some specific circles, namely Iran and Islamist organizations and their followers.

More recently, Esposito also started to defame Egypts’s anti-Muslim-Brotherhood stance and started his “Brigde Initiative,” dedicated to the analysis of “Islamophobia” and the defamation of all critics of jihad and Islamism.

Esposito is fascinated by the “Iranian Revolution” from 1979, as can be seen in his edited volume “The Iranian Revolution. Its Global Impact” (1990) and his chapter “The Iranian Revolution. A Ten-Year Perspective,” where he also emphasized the outreach of Iranian style Islamism to Muslims outside Iran. In 2010, he co-edited the volume “Islam and Peacebuilding. Gülen Movements Initiates,” where he promotes the Islamist approach of Fethullah Gülen and frames him as a kind of Islamic version of German philosopher Jürgen Habermas. Both share a “similar belief in mutual understanding, dialogue and optimism,” murmurs Esposito.

This “optimism” (a nice word for the spread of Islamism, no?) can also be seen in the work of leading Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, another protagonist of Esposito. In his book “The Future of Islam” (2010), the Saudi (Prince Alwaleed) funded scholar says, al-Qaradawi “claims that everything is acceptable (halal) unless proven forbidden (haram).” This makes him a moderate according to Esposito and his German colleagues Gudrun Krämer and Bettina Gräf. Gräf co-edited a book, “The Global Mufti,” with pieces by another Georgetown academic, Barbara Freyer-Stowasser (1935–2012), about “gender equality” in a fatwa about female suiciding bombing against Israel by al-Qaradawi.

In “The Future of Islam,” Esposito also invokes an equivalence between Islamic and Western “fundamentalism,” taking Ronald Reagan and the Iranian Revolution as examples, he also compares George W. Bush to Osama Bin Laden. This cultural relativist approach is well known. But jihad and the rule of religion (Islamism) is not the same as whatever democratic government in the US, Britain or Germany and France etc. does. Mustafa Ceric, former Grand Mufti of Sarajevo, is another Islamist portrayed as kosher, by Esposito. Ceric once went to the Auschwitz Memorial site, not to remember the Shoah but rather to invoke the Muslims-are-the-new-Jews-analogy. Ceric has also been criticized for his ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, among other Islamist aspects of his approach.

Finally, Esposito refers to German security expert and former head (1996–2000) of the “Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution,” Peter Frisch. In his 2010 book (finished in 2009), Esposito writes about Frisch as if he was head of that important institution in 2009, which is a minor problem compared to the lie, the Georgetown scholar spreads about Frisch. Esposito writes: “In Germany, Peter Frisch, head of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), has repeatedly asserted, ‘Muslims want to rule the world.’” He does not quote form a single article by Frisch. In 2001, after 9/11, Frisch argued against the defamation of all Muslims. In 1997, Frisch argued against the rise of Islamism and the reluctance in Germany to even deal with that problem. To my knowledge, he never said that all Muslims want to rule the world. This reproach is rather a lie, invented by Esposito – who runs short to substantiate his claim. But Esposito is obviously not interested in research and quotes.

August 5, 2014, during the latest Gaza War, John L. Esposito tweeted the following: “Elie Wiesel plays the Holocaust trump card in Gaza” and links to an antisemitic homepage – “Mondoweiss.” Wiesel had said, that Jews stopped using children as sacrifices some 3500 years ago, Hamas should stop it now, too. Truly a correct statement, taken the fact that Hamas is verifiably known for abusing children and others as human shields. For Esposito this was just another reason to defame Israel and make fun of the Shoah and a Holocaust survivor.

Esposito compares Israel to Nazis, uses even more antisemitic language, promotes Islamists as possible allies and defames German officials, who headed federal offices in the fight against Jihad and Islamism.

Are these enough reasons for the Jewish Museum Berlin’s Yasemin Shooman, the mainstream weekly “Die Zeit” and its author Yassin Musharbash, the left-green-wing daily “taz” and its Daniel Bax, scholars like Andreas Zick from Bielefeld University, who even sits on Board of the US based “Journal for the Study of Antisemitism” (JSA), or historian Wolfgang Benz, former head of the “Center for Research on Antisemitism” at Technical University Berlin, dozens of other scholars, activists and authors, the Government of Lower Saxony and the German Federal Government to support and join such an event?

 

 

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…

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