NEW YORK – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration reprimanded the Max Planck Institute for sponsoring an Islamic propaganda event featuring the pro-Hezbollah US academic Norman Finkelstein.The government “assesses critically the public presentation of the event,” according to a parliamentary inquiry statement The Jerusalem Post obtained on Thursday.The federal government’s rebuke in late March comes after a US senator and congressman delivered harsh words for the Max Planck Institute’s vigorous defense of Finkelstein’s anti-Israel event in the city of Halle.
Dr. Elvira Groezinger, chairwoman of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East section in Germany, told the Post, “Norman Finkelstein, an American political scholar, not an ethnologist, was invited by Halle’s renowned German research Ethnological Institute, despite the fact that he is well known for his non-scientific and biased approach to the Middle East conflict, merely because he – a Jew – is a fanatical critic of Israel. Using Jewish self-haters for anti-Israel campaigns in disguised as a ‘workshop’ is a classical antisemitic device against the Jewish state and must have no place whatsoever at a German scholarly institution.”She continued, “The German section of the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East is combating the proliferation of false and one-sided anti-Israel and antisemitic information in the academic institution that took place in Halle. There is no excuse for the invitation to Finkelstein, and the MPI [Max Planck Institute] discredited itself within the international scientific community by participating in the BDS campaign Finkelstein is a part of.”Finkelstein’s lecture, titled “Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom,” rocked the academic reputation of the institute because of the alleged shoddy scholarship and its promotion of Islamic-animated terrorism ideologies. “The concept [of martyrdom] is frequently used at present in the context of applying Islamic propaganda,” the German government said in connection with the Finkelstein event. The institute should have conducted the event with “a clear research-orientated political presentation,” the government wrote.The Green party launched a parliamentary inquiry into the event in March. According to deputy Volker Beck, who is chairman of the German-Israel Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag, the Merkel administration’s response shows the “MPI allowed itself to be instrumentalized for Finkelstein’s anti-Israel event.”In 2008, the Jewish state barred Finkelstein from entering Israel for 10 years because of his support for the EU- and US-designated terrorist organization Hezbollah. The Chicago-based DePaul University refused tenure to Finkelstein. Max Planck Institute Halle academic Marie-Claire Foblets, who invited Finkelstein and defended him in the media, has earned a reputation for spreading anti-Israel hatred in Europe. Beck said academic freedom also entails responsibility.Post inquiries to Martin Stratmann, head of the overall Max Planck Institute, which has many campuses, were not returned. In response to accusations that the institute spreads modern academic antisemitism, it wrote on its website: “Seventy years after the Holocaust, employees with a Jewish background are now active at Max Planck.”Finkelstein has written previously that “the honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah, as the United States and Israel target it for liquidation. Indeed, looking back, my chief regret is that I wasn’t even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack.”US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) told the Post: “It’s shameful that the Max Planck Institute will give a platform to the anti-Israel author Norman Finkelstein, a supporter of the terrorist group Hezbollah.”US Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) told the Post: “For a prestigious global institute that produces significant scientific advancements right here in South Florida, I’m appalled and disgusted that Max Planck would welcome someone who has expressed solidarity with a terrorist group set on Israel’s destruction.”Foblets and Stratmann declined to say if they planned to resign.
Hezbollah official says Israel is closer than ever to its demise (credit: MEMRI)