Cologne tolerates 'anti-Semitic’ exhibit

Many on local council oppose German prosecutor's decision, urge action.

anti semitic gaza poster 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
anti semitic gaza poster 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
BERLIN – A crude anti-Israel exhibit in Cologne’s Cathedral Square inthe heart of the bustling pedestrian zone does not meet the criteria ofinciting hate, Rainer Wolf, a spokesman for the public prosecutor inCologne, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Wolfsaid the public prosecutor plans to dismiss the complaint of GerdBuurmann, a non-Jewish theater director, who filed a grievance inFebruary, asserting a violation of Germany’s hate-crime law.
Buurmann told the Postthat he is “horrified” by the decision and plans to now participate ina civil legal action against Walter Herrmann, the exhibitor of theanti-Israel exhibit.
Herrmann’s long-standing exhibit, “CologneWailing Wall,” has been deemed anti-Semitic by critics in the CologneCity Council and a commentator from the large daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
Buurmanninitiated legal action because the exhibit shows a cartoon of a mansporting a Star of David on his bib as he devours a young Palestinianboy with a fork draped in an American flag and a knife with the word“Gaza.” A blood-filled glass next to the plate appears to symbolize theblood of the child.
Wolf, the prosecutor’s spokesman, told the Postthat six or seven complaints have since been filed, ranging fromprivate individuals to the Society for Christian-Jewish relations.
Askedwhether the cartoon is an expression of modern anti-Semitism, Wolfsaid, it is “not a tendency of hostility toward Jews, but an actualcriticism of the situation in Gaza.”
He added that theexhibitor, Walter Herrmann, seeks to “criticize” and the “cartoon is asarcastic expression of the Israeli army in Gaza.”
However, Dr. Marcus Meier, the director of the Society for Christian-Jewish relations in Cologne, told the Postthat his organization filed the complaint because the cartoon of a “Jewdrinking blood with a star of David” spreads anti-Semitism.
Accordingto Meier, the cartoon recalls the anti-Semitic stereotypes of theChristian tradition in which Jews are depicted as eating Christianbabies.
Herrmann has used Cathedral Square to showcase afestival of Israel-hate over the years. Buurmann’s complaint jolted theCologne City Council to issue statements condemning the exhibit asanti-Semitic.
But leading politicians, including ex-mayor FritzSchramma of the Christian Democratic Union and the current SocialDemocratic Mayor Jürgen Roters, from the Social Democratic Party,seemed to have to tolerated Herrmann’s diatribes against Israel overthe last five years by failing to initiate action against theanti-Israel vitriol.
Herrmann also propagates the view that theIsraelis are “cleansing” the holy land of Palestinians in the same waythe Americans purged the Native American presence in North America.
Buurmannappealed to Roters, the Cologne mayor, for a reply regarding a petition– Cologne Against Anti-Semitism – as well as statements from members ofthe city council.
The online petition, directed at Roters,states “it is your task to refrain from looking the other way, tofinally step in and put an end to this anti-Semitic agitation – withall means provided by the German constitution.”
Buurmann said that Roters has ignored the petition.
Gregor Timmer, Roters’s spokesman, told the Postthat it is a justified question to know why the city of Cologne istolerating anti-Semitism. He said Herrmann is “mentally ill” and themayor planned to issue a statement.
Yet, the Left Party, whichis represented in the city council, issued a statement, saying the“criminal act of inciting hatred is met” by the anti-Israeli exhibit.
TheGreen Party faction in the city council sees the exhibit “as repugnantand clearly anti-Semitic,” adding that Herrmann uses the “Wailing Wall”exhibit “as an instrument of one-sided and pigheaded criticism ofIsrael.”
In surprisingly candid language, the Green Partycriticized the council’s failure to not take seriously the effects ofthe anti-Jewish and anti-Israel spectacle. The Free Democratic Party inthe City Council urged the police to dislodge the exhibit.
Accordingto Buurmann, the exhibit is no longer on the Cathedral Square butHerrmann posted a sign that he plans to remount the “Wailing Wall” inJune.
According to the Cologne Against Anti-Semitism Web site, 639individuals have signed the online petition, urging action against the“Wailing Wall” exhibit.
The Web site asked, following PresidentPeres’s visit in Germany, “How would Shimon Peres have felt on his wayhome, had he known that only a few hundred kilometers west of Berlin,in the city of Cologne, Jews today are still exposed to ongoinganti-Semitism – and not only recently but already since 2004?”