BERLIN – The Jewish Museum – and a British professor accused of rejecting
Zionism – faced withering criticism for their role in a slated event to mark the
75th remembrance of Kristallnacht later this week.
A who’s who of
academic and human rights critics on Tuesday blasted Berlin’s Jewish Museum for
hosting a conference with Oxford philosophy professor Brian Klug because he
contends that Zionism, the founding philosophy of Israel, “prevents Jews from
having a normal conception of their own life.”
Klug is the keynote
speaker at a two-day conference scheduled for Friday and Saturday titled
“Anti-Semitism in Europe Today: the Phenomena, the Conflicts.” The second day of
the conference will mark 75 years since the pogrom referred to as
“Kristallnacht,” in which the Nazis and ordinary Germans burned synagogues,
murdered Jews and sent German Jews to concentration camps.
political scientist Dr. Clemens Heni told The Jerusalem Post
, “Brian Klug is a
bad choice as a keynote speaker at a conference on anti- Semitism because he
denies that there is a new anti-Semitism. In his view this is a ‘myth,’
as he wrote in [New York-based magazine] The Nation
“the new anti-Semitism” to mean attacks that aim to demonize, delegitimize and
apply double- standards to Israel.
Heni is the director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, which launched protest statements signed by many Israeli academics sharply criticizing the Jewish Museum and Klug.
Elhanan Yakira, a professor for philosophy at Jerusalem’s
Hebrew University, said that the “Jewish Museum would rather deal with dead Jews
or with a Jew à la Brian Klug” than with “the life, the feelings and thinking”
of the majority of Jews in Israel and the United States.
Steinberg, a political studies professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan,
termed Klug “an immoral anti-Zionist” and accused the Jewish Museum of acting in
the same immoral way by hosting Klug.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a historian
and Islamic studies professor from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies,
said that the “participation of Brian Klug in a conference on anti-Semitism” is
Efraim Karsh, professor of Middle East and
Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, said it is outrageous that a
German-Jewish institution would provide a platform for a voice that “demonizes
Israel” on the 75-year remembrance of Kristallnacht.
Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights
group in Los Angeles, told the Post
: “Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld would be a
more appropriate scholar for Berlin’s Jewish Museum to speak on ‘Anti-Semitism
in Europe Today.’ In his new book Demonizing Israel and the Jews, Gerstenfeld
analyzes a German University’s poll done at the behest of the Ebert Foundation.
By his calculation of the statistics in that poll and other available data, he
estimates that some 150 million Europeans harbor extreme anti-Israel and/or
“A quarter of European Jews fear being seen
manifesting their Jewish identity in public,” Cooper
“According to media reports, Klug has said that ‘Zionism
prevents Jews from having a normal conception of their life.’ And what prevented
European Jewry from having ‘a normal conception of their life’ in the 1930s and
In an email to the Post
, Klug wrote, “The dossier
compiled by [the Berlin International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism] is
a classic example of a kangaroo court. It distorts my work, misrepresents my
views and maligns my character.
Reading it, I felt a little like Socrates
at his trial: he opened his defense by saying that listening to his accusers he
almost forgot who he was.”
Klug added, “Rabbi Cooper refers to a comment
I made about Zionism. The quote is completely out of context. If he is
interested, I would gladly send him the text of the lecture I have written for
Berlin (but after the event, of course) and then he can make up his own mind
about whether I am an appropriate speaker. I extend the same offer to you and to
Multiple Jerusalem Post
press queries to the Jewish
Museum, including to its program director, Cilly Kugelmann, were not
Last year, Berlin’s Jewish Museum hosted Judith Butler, a
professor in the rhetoric and comparative literature departments at the
University of California, Berkeley. She told a sold-out audience of 700 at the
museum that she accepts a “version of a boycott” against Israel, and stressed
that the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement is “non-violent resistance”
against Israel. The mainly German 700 attendees cheered Butler.
Shimon Samuels, who heads the European office of the Wiesenthal Center, wrote an
appeal on Tuesday to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the website of the
European Jewish Press. “Was the Berlin Jewish Museum created, at the cost of
Germany’s taxpayers and international donations, to demonize Israel, serve as a
fig leaf for anti- Semitism and to commit memoricide – the murder of the memory
of those murdered?” Samuels asked.
He added, “Our center thus urges your
chancellery to condemn the museum’s distortion of its role, launch an inquiry
into its behavior and suspend public funding until a new management is