The German embassy defended Muriel Asseberg, a German scholar who has been under fire for calling Israel’s presence in the West Bank apartheid, in a tweet Thursday morning.
Referencing a video that the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu published of a man yelling at Asseberg in the streets, German Ambassador to Israel Stephen Seibert criticized the methods of disagreement.
“Muriel Asseburg is a serious scholar,” German Ambassador to Israel Stephen Seibert wrote in a tweet. “You can share her views or not. If you don’t, debate her and give counterarguments. Harassing her in the street with outrageous insults is unacceptable and should be condemned all around.”
The numerous spats around a German scholar's comments on Israel and apartheid
Seiberts’ tweet is the latest in a series of spats between the Israeli embassy to Germany, in Berlin, and German officials who have defended Asseberg.
Last week, the Israeli embassy blasted the scholar for supposedly justifying terrorism against Israelis and comparing the war in Ukraine to Israel’s activities in Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
The embassy also accused Asseberg of propelling conspiracy theories – such as Israel controlling the Bundestag – during an interview she did with German podcast Jung & Naiv two weeks ago.
“Two and a half hours of Israel basing and wild conspiracy fantasies,” the embassy wrote of her interview. “Muriel Asseburg never misses an opportunity to insult Israel, and yet she has the chutzpah and cheek to present herself as a friend of Israel.”
During the lengthy discussion, Asseburg compared the standards the West used to assess conflict in Ukraine versus in Palestine.
The Ukrainians are currently experiencing something that the Palestinians are familiar with, she said: “Attacks, bombing, occupation, actions that violate international law.“
She also said that often, Palestinians are bothered because resistance from Ukrainians and Palestinians is perceived in different ways; for Palestinians, it is terrorism, but for Ukrainians, it is defense.
Asseburg, in the interview, clearly made a distinction between resistance against civilians, which she said was terrorism, and resistance against armed forces.
The Israeli embassy in Germany also criticized Asseberg for accusing Israel of controlling the Bundenstag, Germany’s federal parliament.
During the interview, Asseburg spoke about Israel’s influence in Germany’s 2019 resolution to describe the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement as antisemitic.
“Why can the Israeli government exert pressure in such a situation?” she asked. “Because we have made it the arbiter about whether we deal with the past in a meaningful way, whether we are purified, whether we have become used to it enough,” she said.
“And that is why it relatively can have a strong influence on something like [the BDS resolution], and that’s why we have such big problems to have a clear position on violations of human rights, on violations of international law in relation to Palestine.”
She asserted further that since Germany has given Israel the power to decide whether or not they have properly repented for the Holocaust, Germany struggles to criticize Israel for their actions in Palestine.
The Israeli embassy also tweeted last week that they “will not respect anyone who calls Israel an apartheid state,” linking to an article Asseburg wrote in a comment for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
In the article, the scholar wrote that “Prima facie, Israel is thus committing the crime of apartheid – which is classified as a crime against humanity – in the occupied territories.”
However, she deferred the definitive legal assessment of the crime of apartheid to the ad hoc Conciliation Commission and the International Criminal Court. She further recommended that the International Crime Court investigate crimes under international law in the Palestinian territories.