A woman holding an Israeli flag.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Organizers from the “Walk of Remembrance” to commemorate the persecution of Jews in the northern German city of Oldenburg attempted on Thursday to ban the Israeli flag from the ceremony.
“I wanted to participate in the march with my Israeli flag as a sign of solidarity with Israel – the state of survivors of the Holocaust. No sooner that I rolled out the flag, a teacher came to me and demanded that I roll back the flag,” Rolf Woltersdorf, a member of the German- Israel Friendship Society (DIG) in Oldenburg, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
The Holocaust remembrance event is a yearly memorial march in remembrance of the deportation of Oldenburg Jews to concentration camps and the destruction of the synagogue in 1938. Pupils from local schools contribute to the content of the event.
Woltersdorf said one organizer “wanted to remove me with physical violence” because of his Israeli flag. He added that some of the marchers supported his solidarity with Israel.
Woltersdorf said as he continued to march, an active member of the DIG urged him to remove the flag.
Cordula Behrens, an educator with the society, draped herself in an Israeli flag. A teacher confronted Behrens and said the flag has nothing to do with the memory of dead Jews.
Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter and the head of its Jerusalem office, told the Post
on Thursday: “This is part of a new trend to use the Holocaust to besmirch and delegitimize Israel. The only good Jew is a dead Jew for these people. It is a very dangerous thing because they are ostensibly trying to remember the Holocaust but these are distorted lessons of the Holocaust. It is the ultimate insult.”
Manfred Klöpper, the former head of the German trade union association in the city of Wilhelmshaven and a member of the Left Party, confronted Woltersdorf and Behrens, asking why on this commemoration day the “national symbol” from Israel is displayed. Woltersdorf told Klöpper the Oldenburg Rabbi Alina Treiger is praying right now for the “nation of Israel.” Klöpper responded: “That does not interest me at all.”
Klöpper told the Post
on Tuesday: “I asked why the flag was displayed.” When asked if the Israeli flag should be shown, he said “yes.”
Some Oldenburg Jews, including the de Beer family, managed to flee to Israel during the Holocaust.
“That the State of Israel saved many Oldenburg and European Jews from German death sentences apparently did not interest the teachers and the former trade union official,” Woltersdorf said.
The commemoration event organizers allowed the Palestinian keffiyeh (checkered black and white scarf) to be worn. A number of the students sported the keffiyeh, a popular scarf among Germans over the decades.
The Oldenburg public school IGS Flötenteich is engulfed in an antisemitism scandal because the public school teacher, Christoph Glanz, who participated in the march, advocates a total boycott of the Jewish state.
Glanz accused Israel of “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing.” He also said Israel is engaged in genocidal activities and “Israel’s government is a racist freak show.”
On Tuesday, Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Karin Bertholdes-Sandrock filed a questionnaire about Glanz’s anti-Israel activities.
She asked the administration of Governor Stephan Weil what resulted from the state’s investigation of Glanz.
Bertholdes-Sandrock further asked if the government shares the view of the Green Party MP Volker Beck that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is antisemitic. She questioned what actions the state government plans to take in response to Glanz’s activities.
School authorities launched an inquiry into Glanz for alleged misconduct and antisemitism.
His critics accuse him of glorifying Palestinian violence on his Facebook page, belittling the Holocaust, and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Anna Anding, a spokeswoman for the CDU, told the Post
that the state government will respond by November 25 to Bertholdes- Sandrock’s questions.
Woltersdorf slammed Glanz’s participation in the commemoration event because he campaigns to “defame and demonize Israel as an ‘apartheid state,’ which he wants to abolish, and this is apparently acceptable.”
Dr. Elvira Grözinger, a member of the German branch of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told the Post
: “Mr. Glanz seems to be fond of dead Jews more than if the living ones as he refers to the victims of the Holocaust. Unfortunately, he follows the pattern of those Germans who prefer to see the Israelis as perpetrators, thus relativizing the German atrocities toward the Jews.” Post emails to the “Walk of Remembrance” were not returned.