The think tank of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) disinvited the distinguished Israeli writer Chaim (Hans) Noll in late April from a talk at the Ariowitsch House in Leipzig, Saxony, because he wrote articles critical of the German government’s pro-Iranian regime policies that jeopardize the security of the Jewish state.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is the ideas organization for the SPD, pulled the plug on Noll’s talk at its branch in the state of Saxony because he previously wrote: “German politicians of the ruling parties – like no one else – are trying to strengthen the mullah regime in Iran, which is preparing for Israel’s liquidation, and destroying and expelling the Jews living there.”
Noll, who grew up in Berlin, East Germany, fled the Communist and antisemitic regime in 1984, and moved to Israel in 1995, said: “‘Never again!’, they [German politicians] declare, sitting with concerned expressions in celebration hours, creating a show business of memorial sites and Jewish museums, commemoration sites and former torture chambers where photo-ops are given. The same politicians are making sure that money is constantly flowing to the mullahs, to terrorists in the Middle East, to organizations that boycott Israel. It is a hypocrisy that makes you speechless. It has long since become mainstreamed and has become ‘normal’ as it was then, because life in German cities was ‘normal’ when they deported the Jews.”
Noll wrote on the pro-Israel and pro-American website The Axis of Good on Sunday in connection with the cancellation of his event: “Recently, I have criticized the Middle East policy led by SPD [Foreign] Minister Heiko Maas’s foreign office several times. Written and verbally. I have reminded that this antiquated, ideology-driven, unsuccessful policy costs German taxpayers millions every year. I have referred to the embarrassment of Maas’s commitment to Auschwitz as an inspiration to his political career and to his persistently anti-Israeli policies. That Maas, as stated recently by the Israeli ambassador, basically sided with the enemies of Israel in the UN, ‘In November, Germany voted 16 times in 21 resolutions against Israel,’ I have criticized German arms deliveries and other help to the belligerent regimes of the region, for example Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
Maas, who last year said that he went into politics “because of Auschwitz,” permitted his Foreign Ministry to participate in a celebration of the Iran’s Islamic Revolution at the Iranian’s regime embassy in Berlin in February. Iran’s revolution calls for the destruction of Israel, and the clerical regime is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, Holocaust-denial and lethal antisemitism.
Germany’s Social Democratic President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sent a telegram to Iran’s regime in February to congratulate the ayatollahs on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Maas opposes US sanctions on Iran’s regime and is working to lift the sanctions via a so-called special purpose vehicle that allows German and EU companies to trade with Tehran.
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, “This is very unfortunate that apparently Noll was disinvited because of his criticism of German foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel. If it is true, it is a sad day for German democracy because the SPD blacklists someone who does not agree with their foreign policy.”
Noll, who has authored many books on Germany and Israel, wrote: “Earlier, when the Federal Republic of Germany was still a democracy, when there was still something like freedom of expression and plurality, party foundations invited me to their events, even though I was delivering critical thoughts there. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation apparently invites only guests who express themselves in the sense of their party line. It is pure hypocrisy when the party behind it complains about the AfD’s [Alternative for Germany’s] threat to democratic values. Or when the German foreign minister, a man of this party, uses the victims of the Shoah as a decoration for his political career.”
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation has attracted controversy in the past for anti-Israel activity in connection with working with jihadi terrorists. A telling example was a February 2004 conference in Lebanon, called the Beirut International Conference on the Islamic World and Europe: From Dialogue Towards Understanding, that was jointly organized and funded by Hezbollah and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
The Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor said at the time, “The conference featured speakers from Hezbollah and Hamas, and the agenda included an item on ‘occupation and resistance,’ a well-worn euphemism for violence and the murder of innocents perpetrated by terrorists.”
The US, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Israel, the United Kingdom and Canada classify Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. The EU and Germany however have only designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.
Matthias Eisel, the director of the Friedrich Ebert office in Saxony, wrote in an email to the Post that he canceled Noll’s event because of the Israeli writer’s criticism of Germany’s pro-Islamic regime policies. Citing Noll’s writings, Eisel wrote: “Anyone who knows our events and discussion forums in Saxony knows that they are always controversial. Mr. Noll, on the other hand, judges flat rate and ideological. He despises German politics as a whole, sees Germany’s politics as traitorous – with the exception of the AfD... Mr. Noll prefers to publish such texts on the ‘Axis of Good,’ a forum that you can at least can call right-populist.”
Many well-known German-Jewish and non-Jewish writers post on the Axis of Good, a website that criticizes modern antisemitism and radical Islam in Germany. When Eisel was asked if he and the Ebert Foundation learned the wrong lessons from the Holocaust because of their boycott activity against an Israeli Jew, he refused to answer.
Writing on “The Axis of Good”, Noll termed Eisel’s decision to exclude him a reminder of how Communist officials from the former German Democratic Republic dealt with citizens who needed to be punished. The now-defunct German Democratic Republic waged an undeclared war against the Jewish state. That campaign was documented by historian Jeffrey Herf in his book.
Eisel was outraged that Noll took Germany to task for failing to aid Israel in times of life-threatening crises and significant pro-Israel diplomacy. For example, Noll wrote: “When it came to helping the Jews, in their country or abroad, in wars imposed on Israel, or in the face of threats in German cities, German politicians – with few exceptions – have fundamentally failed. The Alternative Party for Germany was the only one which demanded a move of the German Embassy to Jerusalem in the German Bundestag. The embassy transfer to a city that is the de facto the capital of Israel would be a matter of course. All other parties have dark reasons to oppose it.”
Noll, who is widely considered a spectacular stylist of the German language, wrote: “As soon as I collide with an institution of German power, I get a glimpse of what my grandmother might have felt when she was first summoned to the Gestapo. That’s inappropriate, I know. And I still hope for leniency. My life is – like that of Heiko Maas – connected with Auschwitz. Only from the other side.”
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