BERLIN – A German foundation called EVZ, set up to compensate slave workers
during the Holocaust and fight contemporary anti- Semitism, is being taken to
task by Israeli, US, and German NGOs for its failure to remedy its reported
misuse of public funds to support anti- Israel activities.
Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post
on Sunday that “It is very troubling that the Remembrance Responsibility Future
(EVZ) Foundation has not provided specific steps to compensate victims of the
Nazis and educate about the horrors of the regime.
“Instead of fulfilling
this goal and combating anti- Semitism – both part of the Foundation’s mandate –
EVZ has funded German and Arab student programs that present distorted views of
the Arab-Israeli conflict, compare Israeli policies to those of previous,
repressive German governments, and developed student materials with anti-Semitic
images and texts,” added Steinberg.
NGO Monitor, a prominent watchdog
organization, has exposed over the years European NGOs who misappropriated
public funds to undercut Israel’s legitimacy as a state. According to NGO
Monitor, the group closely monitors the work of European NGOs and their
misallocation of funds “to promote the Palestinian narrative, and not for
peace-building measures based on mutual understanding.”
The EVZ was
founded in 2000 with a contribution of 5 billion euros by the Federal German
government and German industry to compensate former slave and forced laborers
during the Nazi period. A segment of the EVZ funds are designed to
finance educational projects.
Steinberg told the Post that “The EVZ
misused 20,000 euros to fund programs that actually contribute to the
delegitimization of Israel. This information has been presented to EVZ,
and yet the Foundation refuses to say how it will remedy the
situation. The German government, which funds EVZ, should immediately
cease funding and stop all operations until a complete evaluation of committee
members, funding mechanisms and programming is complete.”
reported last week that EVZ used German-taxpayer funds to publish school
booklets depicting Israel as a violent state that discriminates against Israeli-
Arab pupils. The school brochures equate Israel with the former communist East
German state and assert that Palestinians and Germans are both
The Nazi regime, historians say, frequently invoked the
anti-Semitic argument that Germans were the victims of Jewish
Multiple Post e-mail queries to the chairman of the EVZ, Dr.
Martin Salm, and the EVZ spokesman, Dietrich Wolf Fenner, were not returned in
connection with whether the misused funds for anti-Israeli activities will be
The EVZ refused to answer additional Post queries about
criticisms last week from the European Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, and the American Jewish Committee. The EVZ told the Post last
week that the foundation plans to review their programs.
office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) urged the EVZ last week to “review
its human-rights program guidelines and create targeted programming to combat
anti-Semitism and contribute to a balanced understanding of modern
“A foundation that was initiated by the German government and
industry to honor the lives of millions of Nazi slave and forced laborers should
give priority to initiatives that promote good relations with Israel and fight
modern forms of anti- Semitism,” said Deidre Berger, director of AJC Berlin
Ramer Institute for German- Jewish Relations.
Berger added that
“Unfortunately, programs combating anti-Semitism constitute an extremely small
part of the foundation’s annual program. And some programs, reflecting a
skewed humanrights agenda, may do more harm than good.”
Baker, AJC’s director of International Jewish Affairs, is a member of the EVZ
Board of Trustees.
“I fully expect that there will be a thorough
discussion about this when the board meets in December. The reputation of the
EVZ Stiftung hangs in the balance.” said Baker.
“The German government
must assert its role on the EVZ Board of Trustees,” said Anne Herzberg, an NGO
Monitor legal adviser.
She added that “The time for excuses is over. The
German government has a responsibility to fix this problem now. The educational
damage done to students can be reversed by teaching them about the true values
of human rights, tolerance, and the realities of anti-Semitism. Most
importantly, the government needs to direct funding to survivors, as it was
Sacha Stawski, head of the German watchdog
organization Honestly Concerned, which monitors anti-Semitism in the German
media, told the Post on Sunday that “Sadly, though, Dr. Salm, someone who has
been working for an institution, which sets its goal on ‘remembrance,’
‘responsibility’ and ‘the future,’ for so many years, really has not understood
a single thing about anti-Semitism when he then goes on to say that ‘he is
absolutely sure that none of the caricatures are ‘anti-Semitically motivated.’”
Stawski, whose organization is slated to launch the largest pro-Israel European
conference on October 23 in Frankfurt, added, “Wake up, Dr. Salm: It was your
job to teach these youngsters not to be anti-Semites and yet, at the end of your
project, they come out drawing hate-filled anti-Semitic caricatures. You failed.
Your [publicly financed] project failed. And instead of admitting your mistake
and admitting that there is a lot more work to be done, you tried to silence
“You should have know better and it is you, yourself, who
has most certainly disqualified himself from being an expert on the German
Interior Ministry’s Panel of anti-Semitism experts, let alone an educator for an
institution like the EVZ.”
Salm, the head of the EVZ, is a member the
German Federal government’s commission on anti-Semitism. The commission is
expected to issue a report on efforts to combat anti-Semitism in early November.