BERLIN – A crude anti-Israel exhibit in Cologne’s Cathedral Square in
the heart of the bustling pedestrian zone does not meet the criteria of
inciting hate, Rainer Wolf, a spokesman for the public prosecutor in
Cologne, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
said the public prosecutor plans to dismiss the complaint of Gerd
Buurmann, a non-Jewish theater director, who filed a grievance in
February, asserting a violation of Germany’s hate-crime law.
Buurmann told the Post
that he is “horrified” by the decision and plans to now participate in
a civil legal action against Walter Herrmann, the exhibitor of the
Herrmann’s long-standing exhibit, “Cologne
Wailing Wall,” has been deemed anti-Semitic by critics in the Cologne
City Council and a commentator from the large daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
initiated legal action because the exhibit shows a cartoon of a man
sporting a Star of David on his bib as he devours a young Palestinian
boy with a fork draped in an American flag and a knife with the word
“Gaza.” A blood-filled glass next to the plate appears to symbolize the
blood of the child.
Wolf, the prosecutor’s spokesman, told the Post
that six or seven complaints have since been filed, ranging from
private individuals to the Society for Christian-Jewish relations.
whether the cartoon is an expression of modern anti-Semitism, Wolf
said, it is “not a tendency of hostility toward Jews, but an actual
criticism of the situation in Gaza.”
He added that the
exhibitor, Walter Herrmann, seeks to “criticize” and the “cartoon is a
sarcastic expression of the Israeli army in Gaza.”
However, Dr. Marcus Meier, the director of the Society for Christian-Jewish relations in Cologne, told the Post
that his organization filed the complaint because the cartoon of a “Jew
drinking blood with a star of David” spreads anti-Semitism.
to Meier, the cartoon recalls the anti-Semitic stereotypes of the
Christian tradition in which Jews are depicted as eating Christian
Herrmann has used Cathedral Square to showcase a
festival of Israel-hate over the years. Buurmann’s complaint jolted the
Cologne City Council to issue statements condemning the exhibit as
But leading politicians, including ex-mayor Fritz
Schramma of the Christian Democratic Union and the current Social
Democratic Mayor Jürgen Roters, from the Social Democratic Party,
seemed to have to tolerated Herrmann’s diatribes against Israel over
the last five years by failing to initiate action against the
Herrmann also propagates the view that the
Israelis are “cleansing” the holy land of Palestinians in the same way
the Americans purged the Native American presence in North America.
appealed to Roters, the Cologne mayor, for a reply regarding a petition
– Cologne Against Anti-Semitism – as well as statements from members of
the city council.
The online petition, directed at Roters,
states “it is your task to refrain from looking the other way, to
finally step in and put an end to this anti-Semitic agitation – with
all means provided by the German constitution.”
Buurmann said that Roters has ignored the petition.
Gregor Timmer, Roters’s spokesman, told the Post
that it is a justified question to know why the city of Cologne is
tolerating anti-Semitism. He said Herrmann is “mentally ill." In a statement issued to the Post
, Mayor Roters said that "such a
provocative presentation is not to be tolerated.Precisely because of
the background of Germany's history, is this intolerable. One can
generally criticize Israel's politics, but where an insulting or
anti-Semitic expression appears, one must abstain from such a thing.
In terms of the permissibility of such an expression of speech, that
is covered by the right to protest and the police and public prosecutor
are therefore responsible."
Yet, the Left Party, which
is represented in the city council, issued a statement, saying the
“criminal act of inciting hatred is met” by the anti-Israeli exhibit.
Green Party faction in the city council sees the exhibit “as repugnant
and clearly anti-Semitic,” adding that Herrmann uses the “Wailing Wall”
exhibit “as an instrument of one-sided and pigheaded criticism of
In surprisingly candid language, the Green Party
criticized the council’s failure to not take seriously the effects of
the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel spectacle. The Free Democratic Party in
the City Council urged the police to dislodge the exhibit.
to Buurmann, the exhibit is no longer on the Cathedral Square but
Herrmann posted a sign that he plans to remount the “Wailing Wall” in
According to the Cologne Against Anti-Semitism Web site, 639
individuals have signed the online petition, urging action against the
“Wailing Wall” exhibit.
The Web site asked, following President
Peres’s visit in Germany, “How would Shimon Peres have felt on his way
home, had he known that only a few hundred kilometers west of Berlin,
in the city of Cologne, Jews today are still exposed to ongoing
anti-Semitism – and not only recently but already since 2004?”