A sketched picture of Anne Frank wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh stuck to a tree at Wits University in Johannesburg during this weeks Israel-Apartheid Week.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The ballooning scandal over the Anne Frank center’s comparison between Jews who were stripped of their citizenship by the Nazi regime and the German government’s plan to revoke the citizenship of Islamic State terrorists sparked criticism from Frankfurt’s mayor on Wednesday.
“The comparison with the expatriation into statelessness that was criminally carried out under National Socialism is completely unacceptable. Such comparisons relativize the injustice of National Socialism, “Frankfurt’s mayor Uwe Becker wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Wednesday.
The Frankfurt-based Anne Frank Education Center has faced waves of criticism on social media and in Israeli, American and British publications after the Post reported exclusively on the Center’s comparison last week.
The Center published a thread of five tweets on March 6 in which parallels were apparently drawn between persecuted German Jews who were forced into statelessness and Islamic State terrorists who could lose their citizenship under a German government plan.
According to the Tweets “A lot of protest has broken out against this – including with reference to the Third Reich. In fact, the Nazis made generous use of the means of expatriation. In several waves, a total of over 39,000 people were expatriated – especially Jews.
“As of November 1941, these automatically lost their citizenship when they crossed beyond the Reich’s borders – regardless of whether they ‘emigrated’ or were deported ‘voluntarily,’” it said. “Among other things, Albert Einstein was affected on the grounds that he had violated ‘the duty to be faithful to the Reich and the people.’”
The Anne Frank Center further tweeted “In democracies, deprivation of citizenship is a means that deprives the sovereign, the citizen, of the opportunity to participate. That is why lawyers plead for a restrained approach to this means.”
The Center’s director, the Israeli-born Dr. Meron Mendel, refused to delete the Tweets. Mendel declined to say who wrote the controversial Tweets.
The Center told the Post on Twitter “No, we did not compare or equate Jewish holocaust victims to IS terrorists. And we made that very clear after some misinterpreted our tweet in that way. In no way did we defend jihadists. This is simply not true.”
The Green Party member and German Jew Sergey Lagodinsky, who is running to be a member of the European parliament, wrote the Post “I find this comparison very unfortunate and inappropriate.” Lagodinsky participated at a discussion at the Anne Frank Center last week.
Sacha Stawski, a Frankfurt-based German Jew, told the Post “The tweet by Anne Frank is absolutely despicable. It should have never been published in this way and naturally something that shouldn’t have been published should also be deleted once that it has become known.”
He added “Additionally, it is high time that there are personnel consequences from this. Anyone who tweets something like this should have never been hired and most certainly should not be retained by an institution which carries the name of Anne Frank.”
Stawski runs the website Honestly Concerned that works to combat contemporary antisemitism in German media and civil society.
Becker, the Frankfurt mayor, said “The intention of the German Federal Government to deprive dual nationals of German nationality if they voluntarily join or have joined the IS is a fully justified claim. Who joins of free decision a hostile, foreign power in addition to the open war or armed struggle against their own country... must face the loss of citizenship – especially if he still has another nationality and thus does not become stateless, but ‘only’ loses his German nationality.”
Becker said aside from the faulty comparison, “the Anne Frank Center does really good and important work” in Frankfurt.
The Center did not immediately respond to a Post press query.
In a scathing commentary in The Washington Examiner, Tom Rogan, wrote “This shouldn’t need to be said, but ISIS fighters are not equivalent in moral plight to German Jews between 1933-1945.” The title of his commentary: The sick stupidity of comparing Nazi-era Jews to ISIS fighters.
Rogan noted “Lamenting that Germany might withdraw citizenship from Germans who have joined the Islamic State, the center sent out a number of idiotic tweets.” He wrote “Had the US and British intelligence services not been so effective in disrupting ISIS external attacks, we would have seen many more European incidents in the vein of the November 2015 Paris attacks. Considering that those incidents would have involved individuals the Anne Frank Education Center is now comparing to Jewish refugees, I have only one response: Shut up.”
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