German reporter blames Israel for misusing Holocaust remembrance

Jewish leader terms commentary a boost for right-wing extremists

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says farewell to Russian President Vladimir Putin  (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says farewell to Russian President Vladimir Putin
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
German journalist for the publicly-funded broadcaster ARD is under fire for writing a commentary that was welcomed by right-wing extremists because it condemns the behavior of Israel and Russia as unworthy during the remembrance of the liberation of Auschwitz, a prominent German Jewish leader alleged.

The commentary of the journalist, Sabine Müller, triggered outrage on social media. The German Green Party’s member of the European Parliament Sergey Lagodinsky wrote on Twitter: “Not serious… Incredible chutzpah. There is so much weirdness in this commentary.”

Ran Ronen, a member of the executive committee of the nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany, tweeted that “Müller, who talks about party and unworthy behavior from Israel, crosses every line of reason and morality.”

He added that the commentary falls into the sector of right-wing extremism, noting with apparent sarcasm that “Right-wing radicals should complain again that they have no friendly media.”

Bild journalist Filipp Piatov termed Müller’s commentary “bad style” and as someone who has forgotten her history.

Müller wrote that it was unworthy “how Israel and Russia partially kidnapped this commemoration day. How they celebrated their own political and memorial private party before the official event – with new verbal attacks against Poland and demonstratively lengthy bilateral talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and [Russian] President Vladimir Putin.”

In contrast to her criticism of the “egoism” of Netanyahu and Putin, she wrote that Steinmeier “lived up to the expectations of the first speech by a German head of state in Yad Vashem and, as a representative of the country of the perpetrators, delivered an impressively sensitive and clear speech – in English, mind you. A speech about German guilt and responsibility.”

Müller omitted the criticism that Steinmeier has faced in the German media for contributing to making antisemitism respectable, according to Bild. In February 2019, Steinmeier sent a congratulatory telegram to Iran’s mullah regime in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in the name of federal republic’s citizens.

He wrote “Congratulations on the occasion of the national holiday, also in the name of my compatriots.”

The head of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt, who testified last week in the US Congress on combating Jew-hatred, said at the hearing that Iran’s regime is the leading state-sponsor of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that it “condemns German president’s congratulations to the most dangerous regime in the world, who are religious bigots, who hang Gays, and threaten genocide against Israel – home to the largest Jewish community in the world. When will he condemn their Holocaust denial?”

Müller wrote the memorial in Yad Vashem was “a missed chance in the fight against antisemitism.”

She also took the governments of Russia and Israel to task for “How they mercilessly covered the inauguration of a memorial commemorating the siege of Leningrad.”

Anna-Maria Wagner, a spokeswoman for ARD sent a statement to the Post on behalf of Müller and her employer Hesse Broadcasting, where is she is employed.

“Hesse Broadcasting [HR]rejects the criticism – partly exaggerated and polemical – of the commentary by the correspondent Sabine Müller.”

The commentary, HR wrote, gives the “personal assessment of the author and is an opinion that is guaranteed by freedom of the press.”

When asked if Müller is antisemitic and infected with right-wing extremism, HR wrote that “The author leaves no doubt as to how important the ‘fight against rampant global antisemitism’ is to her and has also appropriately praised the event she reported on: ‘Yes, a lot was worthy and convincing.’”

The HR statement said a more “precise” formulation could have been possibly applied in the sentence declaring that ‘Israel and Russia hijacked this memorial.”’

HR said that the “concrete behavior of the two government politicians” from Russia and Israel could have been subject of the criticism and not the states.

The publicly funded outlet HR added that “If the comment hurt feelings on this special day of remembrance, we expressly regret this.”

Uwe Becker, commissioner of the Hessian federal state government for combating antisemitism, wrote the Post by email that Müller’s commentary is a “low point” of journalism. He added that “Ms. Müller’s comment shows that a deep-seated aversion to Israel’s politics blinds too many to Israel’s interests. Those who serve their blind criticism of Israel on such an important day in memory of the victims of the Shoah have failed because of their responsibility and are out of place.”

Becker said “At such an important moment in our culture of remembrance, one needs empathy for the current security situation of Israel and its people. The Jewish state has to fight for its existence day by day, politically and often also militarily.” When asked about Becker’s comment, the HR and ADR spokespeople reiterated the statement already sent to the Post.