NGO slams destruction of Israeli exhibit in Germany

University of Duisburg-Essen declines to state whether anti-Semitic, anti-Israel motives involved vandalism act.

July 8, 2013 21:39
2 minute read.
Rutu Modan’s graphic novel ‘Exit Wounds,’ the target of vandalism in Germany.

Rutu Modan’s graphic novel ‘Exit Wounds,’ 370. (photo credit: Drawn & Quarterly)


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BERLIN – Vandalism of an exhibit at the University of Duisburg-Essen by a Muslim student triggered sharp criticism on Monday about the lack of public and university opprobrium toward the apparently criminal act.

The female student destroyed last month a graphic novel exhibit by the Israeli artist Rutu Modan. The university’s management has not disciplined the student and instead canceled the exhibit, “What Comics Can Do! – Recent Trends in Graphic Fiction.”

When asked by The Jerusalem Post on Monday if the student’s conduct was animated by anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, Beate Kostka, a spokeswoman for the university, said such questions cannot be answered at this time.

Kostka objected to the presentation in the taz newspaper], which asserted a possible anti-Semitic motivation by the vandal. “When a German paper claims an anti-Semitic attitude,” it is based on unexamined assumptions, she said.

The spokeswoman said the university assigned a professor of Islamic studies to evaluate whether the Arabic language was correctly presented in the exhibit. She flatly denied the exhibit was removed so as not to offend Muslim students, who complained about a part of the exhibit containing the graphic novel Habibi.

The US comic and novel artist Craig Thompson authored Habibi; it shows sex scenes and the word “Allah” written in Arabic calligraphy, and caused outrage among Muslim students.

Prof. Frank Pointner justified the decision to take down the exhibit, saying, “It is not about the content, rather the narration techniques and function of comics,” the regional daily WAZ reported.

Kostka said the university is examining the incident and reserves the right to take legal action against the student.

She declined to say whether the university contacted the police because of a criminal act and refused to name the student.

The Muslim student cut with a scissor photographs from a collage based on Modan’s internationally acclaimed work Exit Wounds (“Blutspuren” in German).

The collage showed a peace demonstration in Israel with a poster containing the word “Shalom.”

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told the Post on Monday, “This violent act of ‘new anti-Semitism’ is the direct result of the poisonous images of Israel that are prevalent in Europe, including Germany.

These images are promoted by vicious cartoons in newspapers that repeat false accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes,’ and events that honor leaders of this political war, such as Frankfurt’s award to Judith Butler.”

Germany has awarded over the years top prizes to anti- Israel academics. The city of Frankfurt presented its Adorno award to the US professor Butler last September.

She advocates a boycott of Israeli cultural and academic institutions.

Steinberg, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan university in Ramat Gan, added, “When leaders of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung use double standards to promote unethical boycotts against Israeli products (under the facade of consumer information), they contribute to the atmosphere that justifies violent attacks on Israeli society and culture. German society, including the so-called Left, has a moral obligation not only to stop participating in the demonization of Israel, but to take the lead in demanding the end to such behavior.”

The Böll Foundation is affiliated with the German Green Party and its incoming Tel Aviv office head, Kerstin Müller, led a key legislative initiative in the Bundestag to sanction Israeli products. German Jewish leaders have charged her with anti-Semitism and hostility toward the Jewish community and Israel.

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