Israeli author prevails over German ‘antisemite’ in legal dispute

The court concluded that “Due to the sufficient connection of facts, there is also no abusive criticism that vilifies [Bernstein]."

eneral view shows a regional court in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
eneral view shows a regional court in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2019.
A Berlin court rejected in May a lawsuit filed by an alleged German antisemite against the publishing house of Israeli author Arye Sharuz Shalicar because of critical passages in his book confronting Jew-hatred.
In Shalicar’s 2018 book The New German Antisemite, he sharply criticizes the reportedly anti-Israel activist Reiner Bernstein for being a “Jew-hater.”
The court said that Shalicar’s statement, “‘Reiner Bernstein’s antisemitic view,’ is also a permissible expression of opinion.” The 42-year-old Shalicar is an Israeli-German public speaker and writer and a former IDF Spokesman. He is currently a senior adviser to the Israeli government.
According to the 9-page Berlin court decision reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the Munich-based Bernstein authored a blog slamming the Bundestag for its resolution rejecting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement as an antisemitic campaign.
In response to a Post query to Bernstein, Ulrich Kusche said Bernstein was not in Munich and stated he would respond on his behalf. Kusche sent a press statement noting that “Due to his criticism of Israeli politics, the publicist Reiner Bernstein is increasingly denigrated as an enemy of Israel, BDS supporter and antisemite.”
The press statement added that Bernstein has showed “decades of commitment to a nuanced understanding of Jewish history and the history of Israel and [he] is known for peaceful development in the Middle East.” The statement said his peaceful activities are “well documented in numerous publications” by him.
Bernstein, who was born in 1939 and is not Jewish, ostensibly argued that he is not antisemitic because he was an active supporter of the “Stolpersteine” project in Munich, in which brass plaques which name Holocaust victims are embedded into sidewalks and street as reminders of the victims.
Charlotte Knobloch, the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and current head of the Munich Jewish community, has long opposed the Stolpersteine and has called it an insult to the victims. Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor, said it is “intolerable” for passers-by to step on the names of Jews that were murdered in the tragedy.
Bernstein sought to compel Shalicar’s publisher Hentrich und Hentrich Verlag Berlin Leipzig to delete 10 statements he wrote about him.
The court concluded that “Due to the sufficient connection of facts, there is also no abusive criticism that vilifies [Bernstein].”
The court’s judges who affirmed Shalicar’s free speech rights are Tucholski, Schneider and Schönberg. Bernstein is required to pay €40,000 in costs associated with his legal defeat.
Shalicar wrote the Post that “I call him [Bernstein] someone who is full of hatred for the Jews and especially the Jewish state, and actually covers up his deep antisemitism with his ‘criticism of Israel.’”
Shalicar, an expert in the field of German antisemitism, stressed that Bernstein disguises his problem with Jews by attacking Israel and seeking to disguise his “modern antisemitism.”
The Post sent a press query to Bernstein.
Retired German academic Micha Brumlik defended Bernstein on Monday in the Frankfurter Rundschau paper – a left-wing daily that was embroiled in an antisemitism scandal because it compared last year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the 1940 Nazi antisemitic movie The Eternal Jew.
Brumlik said the court decision “disavows academic antisemitism research and opens the door to any hate crime.”
In 2012, Brumlik moderated a panel with the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler who has argued that “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”
The German government classifies Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist entities. The Post was barred from asking questions about Butler’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah during Brumlik’s moderation of the panel at the time. Butler urged BDS support at the event in Berlin’s Jewish museum.
Brumlik issued words of support for the South African-based academic Achille Mbembe, who supported two BDS actions against Israeli academics, and has been accused of minimizing the Holocaust.
Sigmount Königsberg, the representative to combat antisemitism for Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin, wrote on twitter that “Brumlik puts the accusation of being an antisemite on the same level as sexist insults and insults... He is doing a disservice to combating antisemitism.”
Shalicar said to the Post that “Nowadays, modern antisemitism is almost always washed into Germany as ‘criticism of Israel.’ I will continue to fight against haters of Jews.”