BERLIN - Israel's Ambassador to Germany,Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman, weighed in on
the heated row over the alleged anti-Semitism of Der Spiegel columnist Jakob
Augstein and growing left-wing anti-Semitism in the Federal
"That is shameful,"said Hadas-Handelsman of Augstein's
comparison between the Gaza Strip and a concentration camp. The Israeli
ambassador gave a wide-ranging interview on Saturday to the daily Rheinische
Post, a regional paper in Düsseldorf.
When asked whether Augstein is an
anti-Semite, Hadas-Handelsman said he could not delve into the psyche of
anti-Israel authors and journalists like Guenther Grass and Augstein to
determine if they are anti-Semites.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center included
Augstein on its 2012 top-10 list of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs. Augstein
termed Gaza a "camp" which evokes in a German language context a Nazi
extermination camp. He also said, "Gaza is a place out of the end of times...
1.7 million people live there on 360 sq. kilometers. Israel incubates its own
In this week's Spiegel magazine, which Augstein partly owns,
he admitted, "With the word 'camp' I definitely went too far." However, he
defended his criticisms of Israel for delivering marching orders to the US and
German governments and as the country endangering world peace. He also attacked
Israel in new terms during the interview by comparing the Jewish state to the
former Apartheid regime in South Africa. He said he has never been to Israel and
said he would not visit.
On a Günther Jauch's talk show last year,
Augstein compared the Nazi crimes of the Holocaust with the policies of the
Israeli government. He did not retract his comparison during the Spiegel
Hadas-Handelsman said it is different when a German criticizes
Israel in contrast with a Brit or a Norwegian. He urged Germans to be more
sensitive and careful with their criticisms of Israel. The ambassador added that
anti-Semitism has morphed into new areas and "today we are observing a growing
anti-Semitism from the Left."
Augstein's column in Spiegel is titled "When In
Doubt, Think Left" and he is the editor-in-chief of a left-wing weekly called
Freitag that is steeped, according to critics, in attacks on Israel.
ambassador's comments about the mushrooming presence of left-wing anti-Semitism
in Germany contrasts with many of his predecessors who focused on right-wing