'Anti-Zionism a type of anti-Semitism'

Both sides in court case claim legal victory in "kosher anti-Semitic label case" in Cologne, Germany.

broder 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Alex Gorski [file])
broder 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Alex Gorski [file])
A Cologne regional court ruling on Wednesday resulted in a partial legal victory for Henryk M. Broder, a prominent Jewish journalist who had asked the court to vacate a temporary restraining order barring him from labeling statements from fellow Jew Evelyn Hecht-Galinski as anti-Semitic. Hecht-Galinski, whose late father served as the head of Berlin's first post-Holocaust Jewish community and president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, equates Israeli policies with those of Nazi Germany, and argues that a "Jewish-Israel lobby with its active network is extended over the world and thanks to America its power has become so great..." The court largely waived the injunction against Broder. Nathan Gelbart, Broder's attorney, told The Jerusalem Post that "the ruling says that Mr. Broder is not supposed to call Ms. Hecht-Galinski statements anti-Semitic. As long as he gives reasons for this charge of anti-Semitism, there is no problem, and the court also stated that because of the kinds of statements that Ms. Hecht-Galinski makes in public, she has to accept that other people consider these statements as anti-Semitic, as long as it is related to a context. I consider it a win because the court issued Henryk Broder and the public a user manual on how to call Ms. Hecht-Galinski's statements anti-Semitic." Dr. Dirk Esser, a spokesman for the Cologne court, said, "This decision does not per se ban saying that the plaintiff makes anti-Semitic statements. A comparable statement with the required information would be permitted." Hecht-Galinski said she was "very pleased with this decision. Also because Broder and his assistants in recent days have tried - unsuccessfully - to put heavy media pressure on the court and tried to pressure me using more defamations. Based on today's decision I will also pursue these other defamations and comparable statements in the future. The suggestion that I compared conditions in Israel with anti-Semitic crimes of the Nazi regime is false." In a Deutschlandradio interview last year, Hecht-Galinski applauded the statement of German Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke, who while visiting Israel said, "This morning we saw pictures of the Warsaw Ghetto at Yad Vashem and this evening we are going to the Ramallah ghetto." Gelbart said Wednesday that his client Broder "can say that comparing the situation in the West Bank with the Warsaw Ghetto is anti-Semitic and there is nothing she can do about it." The legal battle was triggered when the West German Broadcasting Corporation's radio program Hallo Ü-Wagen(Hello from the Sound Track) invited Hecht-Galinski to appear on a special episode devoted to Israel's 60th anniversary. Responding to the invitation, Broder wrote an e-mail to the broadcaster's director in Cologne, Monika Piel, invoking his well-known polemical skills: "The only claim to fame of Evelyn Hecht-Galinski (who first adopted her father's name after the latter's death) is the fact that she is 'the daughter of Heinz Galinksi,' as she introduces herself at each of her appearances. There is no justification for describing her as an 'author,' since apart from letters-to-the-editor she has written nothing and published nothing. Even a drunken reveler at carnival in Cologne could recognize that Ms. E.H.G. is a hysterical housewife in need of affirmation, who speaks for no one and talks nonsense. Her specialty is intellectually vapid anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist statements - such as are currently in fashion." Broder posted his e-mail on the widely read blog, Die Achse des Guten (The Axis of Good). According to the Cologne court ruling, Broder cannot put the adjective "anti-Semitic" back in the blog entry. Gelbart said, "Henryk Broder reserves the right to appeal" the decision restricting his usage of the phrase "anti-Semitic" in his blog regarding Piel. The decision is a further validation of Broder's decades-long effort pushing for recognition of Jewish anti-Semitism and of anti-Zionism in general as a widespread form of contemporary anti-Semitism in Germany. The Central Council of Jews in Germany supports Broder's position and the Austrian Jewish community issued a statement on Wednesday asserting that definitions of anti-Semitism "are of course based on the substance of the anti-Semitic statements and not on the ethnic origin of the person making them. If that person formally belongs to a Jewish community, or is in fact or supposedly of Jewish or Israeli origin, the definitions of anti-Semitism still apply. To give someone carte blanche for anti-Semitism because of Jewish origin or meritorious ancestors is racism." Ariel Muzicant, president of the Jewish community in Austria, and Raimund Fastenbauer, general-secretary of the organization, declared their "complete support for and solidarity with Henryk Broder in his statements regarding Ms. Evelyn Hecht-Galinski. [We] fully share his opinion in this regard, and reject any attempts to criminalize him." The legal dispute and the limits of criticizing anti-Semitic have dominated German national press coverage of late. Critics say the chief cultural page editor of the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Patrick Bahners, has been defending Hecht-Galinski's anti-Israel diatribes. Bahners wrote in a front page article: "To succeed in describing one's opponent as an anti-Semite is to remove that person from public discourse," adding that even some Israeli peace activists have compared the West Bank security barrier to the Warsaw Ghetto. When asked about the European Union's working definition of anti-Semitism that says Nazi comparisons with Israeli politics are a manifestation of anti-Semitism, Bahners told the Post, "It depends on the context." Dr. Dieter Graumann, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, described Bahner's article as "a downright ugly attempt to delegitimize and discredit the Jewish voice in Germany, and in a general, broad manner. We Jews here are caricatured as being dumb pawns of Israel and our position is to be considered untrustworthy. If this is the new direction of the FAZ (other articles come to mind, for example from [the paper's Lorenz] Jäger), then those with some sense of responsibility should quickly pull the emergency brakes. It's high time!" Critics also say Jäger, who reports on culture for FAZ, stokes anti-Israel and anti-Jewish prejudices in his articles. Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said FAZ had shifted its political direction toward that of the extreme right-wing weekly Junge Freiheit in order to increase its circulation. Frank Schirrmacher, an FAZ publisher, declined to answer multiple Post e-mail queries. While Bahners conceded to the Post that Hecht-Galinski's talk of a worldwide Jewish-Israel lobby "calls forth a reminder of a famous type of anti-Semitism, the world conspiracy," he reduced his definition of anti-Semitism to calling Jews "money-grabbers" in his FAZ article. When asked how he would describe anti-Semitism, he refused to offer a definition to the Post. Alan Posener, the chief commentary editor for Die Welt am Sonntag, the largest circulation weekend paper, told the Post, "Patrick Bahners thinks that whereas saying Jews are money-grabbers is obviously anti-Semitic, it's not anti-Semitic to say that Israel treats the Palestinians the way the Nazis treated the Jews, although this slander is used by Israel's enemies to justify terrorism against Jews in Israel and elsewhere. "Well, Bahners is entitled to his opinion, however ill-informed that may be, but what he wants to do is to proscribe the argument that a certain brand of anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic - to ban it from public discourse. Quite a few Germans would love that, of course, since criticism of Israel has long been the mask for repressed anti-Semitic feelings, but playing to that gallery doesn't seem to me to indicate a particularly democratic mindset."