German college article labels Israel ‘apartheid’ (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT 04/02/12)
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BERLIN – A college newspaper in an east German town published a
commentary defending Social Democratic party head Sigmar Gabriel’s
use of the term “apartheid regime” to describe Israel’s government.
The article in the Novum, printed on March 28, is accompanied by a
cartoon of Gabriel with a dog muzzle on his face, suggesting that
criticism of Israel is prohibited in the Federal Republic.
The author of the article, Florian Barth, wrote that “criticism of
Israel’s Palestinian policies and criticism of the Israeli state have
nothing to do with each other.”
The article and cartoon unleashed criticism from the Dresden Jewish
community, which is situated near Hochschule Mittweida – University
of Applied Sciences, in the state of Saxony.
In a telephone conversation with The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Heinz
Joachim Aris, the spokesman for the Dresden community, said the
article is informed by “prejudices” against Israel. He termed the
commentary “off the mark” and said Gabriel’s attacks on Israel “are
not acceptable” because they are creating sentiments against the
Aris said the town of Mittweida is loaded with neo-Nazi activity.
Ludwig Hilmer, a professor of media communications at Mitweida who is
responsible for the weekly paper, told the Post via phone on Sunday
that he was in Israel during the production process of the issue and
would not have permitted the publication of the commentary.
He said Barth is a young student in his early 20s who is not familiar
with the history of modern anti-Semitism in Germany.
Hilmer said he spoke with Barth about the article.
According to Hilmer, the circulation of Novum is about 1,000 and the
publication has a website where readers can view articles in PDF.
Hilmer was in Haifa in March to advance the cooperation between the
Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and Mittweida’s university.
The controversy over the article arose when an outraged student at
Mittweida read it and forwarded it to Sacha Stawski, the editor-in-
chief of the Frankfurt-based media watchdog organization Honestly
“A large part of the mainstream anti- Semitism, which has become part
of our daily lives, is centered around the accusation that some magic
[Jewish] lobby is trying to silence valid criticism of Israel, by
claiming that the criticism is anti-Semitic,” Stawski wrote to the
Post via email on Saturday.
“In fact, this is one of the most common accusations leveled against
friends of Israel – most commonly by anti-Zionists and anti- Semites:
The supposed swinging of the ‘anti-Semitism club.”’ The student who
first forwarded the article to Stawski told the Post via phone on
Sunday that he was “shocked” by the commentary, and said this type of
criticism generally comes from the extreme right wing.
He said the article and cartoon spread the view that Israel is
an “apartheid” state. The student wished to remain anonymous because
of the presence of neo-Nazi and anti-Israel hostility in the region.
He added that he is “sensitized in terms of anti-Semitism” and viewed
the article and cartoon as an expression of modern Jew-hatred.
Stawski, the head of the NGO that monitors anti-Semitism in the
German press, said, “The accusation being made here is that friends
of Israel intimidate Israel-critics by accusing them of being anti-
Semites, thereby supposedly trying to squash any criticism of the
Jewish state.” He called this approach “an ideal way to avoid having
to divulge into any facts.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/02/12)
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