Jewish women are rounded up by Nazis and Hungarian fascists, Wesselényi Street, Budapest, October 1944..
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA / GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVE)
BERLIN – A regional judge in Munich is embroiled in a highly charged dispute over her statement in a civil case that German anti-Semitism was limited to the Nazi period of 1933-1945, suggesting that post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is not a factor in Jew-hatred.
The Munich regional judge, Petra Grönke-Müller, sparked outrage on October 8 with her courtroom assertion during a civil case that “a fiery anti-Semite is someone in Germany who talks, with conviction, in an anti-Semitic way and, with conviction, does not condemn the Third Reich and cannot view the period 1933-1945 as separate from the background of history.”
The case, which goes to the heart of a modern understanding of anti-Semitism in Germany, pits a co-founder of the German Green Party, Jutta Ditfurth, against an extreme nationalistic journalist, Jürgen Elsässer.
During a 3Sat television interview in April, Ditfurth called Elsässer a “fiery anti-Semite.”
In response, Elsässer wrote that she had “defamed“ him and engaged in “character assassination,” and filed a lawsuit against her. He further claimed that her accusation threatened his livelihood as a journalist.
In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Ditfurth said she had called Elsässer a “fiery anti-Semite” because he worked together with anti-Semites and traffics in anti-Semitic demonstrations and organizations. She also claimed he used “many forms of disguised anti-Semitism.”
She said Elsässer worked with Ken Jebsen, a former radio host who wrote: “I know who invented the Holocaust as PR.”
Jebsen’s station, RBB, fired him over the criticism leveled against him for denying the Holocaust.
Efforts to reach Elsässer at his publishing address in Leipzig were not successful.
German journalists and legal experts on anti-Semitism quickly weighed in on the judge’s comment.
Speaking to the Post on Thursday, Nathan Gelbart, a leading Berlin attorney, said Grönke-Müller lacked an understanding about anti-Semitism, calling this “very dangerous.” He said the comment meant that “other forms of Jew-hatred” cannot be considered anti-Semitism.
A telling example, he said, is when Muslims at anti-Israel demonstrations over the summer yelled “Gas the Jews.”
Gelbart, who won a legal case in which a judge attempted to strictly limit the definition of anti-Semitism, said Grönke- Müller’s definition ignored anti-Semitism before and after the 12 years of National Socialism.
Henryk M. Broder, a Die Welt columnist and leading German expert on anti-Semitism who testified on modern expressions of Jew-hatred at a hearing in the Bundestag, wrote in his column on Wednesday that the judge was attempting to legally restrict anti-Semitism to the Third Reich period.
“That is as logical as if one would only accept a gangbang as rape,” he stated.
Uwe Habereder, a spokesman for Grönke-Müller, told the Post on Thursday that he could not comment on the matter because the case was still being heard. He said the judge’s decision will likely be issued on November 19.
In 2009, Elsässer defended the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Germany, which calls each year for the destruction of Israel and attracts Hezbollah activists, supporters of the Iranian regime and neo-Nazis.
Prior to the rally he wrote in his blog – with the headline “Demonstration of Islamic groups against imperialism and Zionism” – that he could not find anything anti-Semitic about the event. This year, Green Party lawmaker Volker Beck termed the rally “a hate event” that denies Israel’s existence.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency lists the Al-Quds Day event under the section of “Islamism/Islamic terrorism.”
Elsässer’s attorney, Michael Hubertus von Sprenger, did not immediately respond to email and telephone queries from the Post.
Ditfurth, who is also a sociologist and known for her anti-fascism work, has posted a notice on her website seeking donations to cover her mounting legal costs.
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