Wednesday 19 October 2011

Germans use ‘anti-Israel’ Jews to soothe Holocaust guilt

Source: TJP, article by Benjamin Weinthal

Analysis: What mechanisms are causing some German educators, students, EVZ foundation employees to turn Israel into whipping boy for Europe’s guilt?

BERLIN – The Jerusalem Post exposé on the German Holocaust foundation Remembrance, Responsibility, Future (EVZ) in late September and October revealed that two of its Holocaust high school student programs were being fueled by hatred of the Jewish state.

What social and psychological mechanisms are causing some German educators, students and EVZ foundation employees to marginalize the Holocaust and turn the State of Israel into a public whipping boy for Europe’s guilt about the crimes of the Shoah?

In a series of interviews with leading Israeli and Dutch specialists last week and on Sunday, the Post examined the need of many Europeans to expunge feelings of culpability about the memory of their ancestors’ complicity in the Holocaust.

The EVZ used 38,690 euros ($53,687) to finance studentexchange programs in 2010- 2011, in which Israel was equated with the former repressive Stalinist East German state, and students published crude cartoons of Jews in a brochure. German taxpayer monies funded the speaking engagement of a hardcore anti-Israel Holocaust survivor, Hajo Meyer, at the Anne Frank high school in Gütersloh.

During Meyer’s talk with the students, he termed Israel a “criminal state” and equated the suffering of Palestinians to the persecution and mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs who authored a book on the abuse of the memory of the Holocaust, said that “comparing Palestinians with Shoah victims is part of the much broader distortion category of Holocaust inversion. These inverters portray Jews as Nazis. The few such Jewish ideological perverts get publicity because many more non-Jews want to hear these things from Jews.”

Gerstenfeld, who was raised in Holland and is an expert on modern European anti-Semitism, cited the writer Leon de Winter’s views about the “falsifiers of history” who impose higher ethical standards on Jews because of the Holocaust. “The writer Leon de Winter once said to me: ‘They present the Shoah as an educational institute for Jews to teach Jewish morals. In other words, the Nazis held courses in the concentration camps in order to imbue Jews with humanity,’” added Gerstenfeld.

When asked about the motives of Meyer and the steady stream of NGO invitations across Europe to have Meyer express his loathing of Israel, De Winter, a best-selling Jewish Dutch novelist, told the Post that “Meyer is a sad and extreme case of ‘survival guilt,’ which has led to hatred of everything that is Jewish. He is a member of every Israel-bashing group in Holland, and because he is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, they love him. He combines his selfhatred with vanity – a terrible mix. He can be vain and full of self-hatred at the same time because he is proud of having been able to make sense of the Holocaust: the Jews are to blame because of their rules, laws, and claims to be exceptional and ‘chosen.’”

“In a book about the ‘end of Judaism,’ an end he favors, he wrote that the Jews’ ‘otherness,’ like their dietary rules, caused antipathy already thousands of years ago,” De Winter continued. “It is a fascinating and frightening way to survive – he is still the Nazi prisoner he once was by completely internalizing the Nazi’s hatred.”

Commenting on the need to host speakers such as Meyer at European events, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor, said, “The evil resides in those who are exploiting Meyer’s tragedy for their cynical agenda.”

Steinberg and NGO Monitor exposed the improper funds for the Anne Frank high school program in an early October report. He argues there is a “readiness of organizations and individuals” in Europe to allow critics like Meyer and the American Jewish anti-Zionist activist Hedy Epstein, who fled the Holocaust to England in 1939, to voice positions that delegitimize the existence of Israel.  “There is a demand for this and it soothes the guilt complexes of Europeans,” said Steinberg.

He added that the “German organization [EVZ]” provides a “platform to reinforce their extreme psychological responses” of Meyer and Epstein. A Holocaust survivor like Meyer helps to “assuage their [Europeans’] guilt” and an organization [EVZ] should not be party to this kind of exploitation.”

Steinberg and NGO Monitor have called on the EVZ to recoup the mismanaged funds and use the funds to teach Holocaust education and compensate survivors.

The use of anti-Israel Jews like Meyer and Epstein recalls the bitterly polemical line of the Austrian Jewish satirist and humorist Alexander Roda Roda (1872-1945): “Anti-Semitism could really amount to something if the Jews would just take charge of it.”

In short, some German educators exploit figures like Meyer to do indirectly what they cannot do directly, namely, compare Israel with Nazi Germany. The European Union’s definition of anti-Semitism outlines the Nazi-equals-Israel comparison to be a contemporary form of Jew-hatred.

The EVZ has defended the Anne Frank high school program and refuses to reclaim its funds for anti-Israeli activities and its trivialization of the Holocaust workshops. According to statements issued to the Post and the EVZ Board of Trustees, the controversial head of the EVZ, Dr. Martin Salm, plans to review its program structure.

Gunnar Weykam, the head of the Anne Frank school’s “Palestine Project,” has refused to to issue a comment to the Post on his school’s use of EVZ funds to bash Israel. In an e-mail to the Post, he wrote that he wished to first read the report about his school’s activities.  The school is named after the German-Jewish teenager Anne Frank who was murdered by the Germans in the Bergen- Belsen extermination camp.

There is no shortage of genocidal anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Semitic terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Take the most glaring example of Iran’s regime and its desire to “wipe Israel off the map” and deny the first Holocaust, while planning a nuclear-armed second Holocaust against the Jewish state.  All of this helps to explain the outrage about the EVZ’s blind spots, as well as Weykam and his students’ obsession with hyperbolic criticisms of Israel and their ignorance of lethal anti-Semitism and the Shoah.  It is a tall order to expect that Weykam will abolish the “Palestine Project” and create an “Iran Project” to combat modern anti-Semitism and internalize the mission of Anne Frank’s memory.

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I'm curious about that drawing comparing the two classrooms. Didn't it occur to the artist that it's the PA that determines social expenditures for the West Bank, and that controls the schools? Israel doesn't run those schools and so what goes on there isn't Israel's fault.