BERLIN – The city of Frankfurt’s decision to honor French academic Alfred
Grosser “casts an unfortunate and unnecessary shadow on the event” to
commemorate the persecution of Jews in Germany because his views “regarding the
State of Israel are illegitimate and immoral,” Emmanuel Nahshon, the deputy
chief of mission for the Israeli Embassy in Germany, said on
Mayor Petra Roth defended her invitation to Grosser to deliver
a speech at next week’s commemoration of Kristallnacht, a wave of
state-sponsored violence against German Jews on November 9, 1938.
exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post
, Nahshon said Grosser’s “extreme
opinions are tainted by self-hatred.”
The Israeli Embassy has gone on the
offensive to counter the growing efforts in Germany to delegitimize the Jewish
German governments – including local and regional ones –
frequently give anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Jews prizes and speaking
engagements to vent criticism of Israel. Last year, then- German president Horst
Köhler issued the Federal Merit Cross, one of the country’s most prestigious
awards, to Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer, who has equated Israel with Nazi
Germany and the South African apartheid regime.
Speaking from France,
Grosser, a sociologist, political scientist and historian born to a German-
Jewish family in Frankfurt in 1925, told the Post in a telephone interview that
he stands by his statement that “criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism have
nothing to do with each other.
It is rather Israel’s policies that
promote anti-Semitism globally.”
Grosser has compared his treatment by
the Nazis in the early 1930s with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. His
family fled to France in 1933.
The “Palestinians are despised by Israel”
and Israel has “no feeling for [the] suffering in Gaza and in the territories,”
He told the Post.
“It’s all about understanding the suffering of others,”
“This understanding generally does not exist on the part of
Grosser said he plans to “criticize” Israel during his speech on
Tuesday and to reference Theodor Herzl in saying that there should be “no
discrimination by sex and religion” in Israel.
The speaking invitation
has frayed relations between the city of Frankfurt and Germany’s Jewish
community. The Central Council of Jews in Germany called for Grosser to be
The Frankfurt Jewish community issued a statement, saying,
“In recent years, he has represented escalating positions that are unacceptable
The Frankfurt Jewish community wrote that Grosser has issued a
sweeping attack on the Central Council of Jews in Germany – the main umbrella
organization for Germany’s 106,000 Jews. According to members of the Jewish
community there, the Haifa-born Dieter Graumann and Salomon Korn, both vice
presidents of the Central Council and residents of Frankfurt, plan to attend the
Kristallnacht event but to walk out if Grosser engages in tirades against
Grosser previously called the Central Council one of the “worst”
defenders of Israel because Graumann, who is expect to be the next president of
the organization, and the Council have labeled outbreaks of hatred in Germany
against Israel as anti-Semitic.
In a letter to Mayor Roth, Stephan J.
Kramer, the generalsecretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote
that “Grosser does not tire of equating the situation of the Palestinian
population with the fate of millions of Jewish men, women and children during
the Shoah... and for this reason plays down the Holocaust and the unspeakable
suffering of the victims of National Socialism.”
Kramer added that a
speech from Mr. Grosser at this location on this occasion is “impious and raises
doubt about the until now authentic engagement of the city of
Roth has refused to withdraw the invitation to Grosser. In a
statement issued on Thursday, she said, “I am especially happy about the growing
relations with our partner city Tel Aviv and the many personal contacts with
people in Israel. Precisely from this history grows Germany’s special
responsibility for the security of Israel. Israel has my personal unconditional
solidarity as well as that of the city of Frankfurt.”
Grosser’s invitation to speak because of efforts to promote “international
goodwill,” particularly between Germany and France.
She declined to
answer queries from the Post about why the city intends to honor a known
Israel-basher and did not specifically respond to the criticisms of diplomat
Grosser, professor emeritus at the Institut d’Études Politiques
de Paris and a former research and studies director at the Fondation nationale
des sciences politiques, frequently voices his anti-Israeli positions in the
German media and academic journals.
In 2008, a B’nai B’rith official
testified on Grosser’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments in Berlin at the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. According to the OSCE
hearing in the German Bundestag, Grosser’s statements could be construed as
meeting the European Union’s definition of contemporary anti-Semitism.