German program uses Shoah funds to play down Holocaust

School program is vehemently anti-Israel, NGO Monitor says; main focus was devoted to alleging Israeli violations and immorality.

Hajo Meyer 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hajo Meyer 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
BERLIN – The German Holocaust Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, Future (EVZ)” has used public monies to finance a second anti-Israel high school program that includes elements of Holocaust denial, according to a new report issued on Friday by the Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor.
The new revelations add to the bombshell disclosure in late September that EVZ provided 21,590 euros to a dubious 2010-11 student exchange program between an east German high school (Gerhart Hauptmann) and an Israeli- Arab school in Nazareth (Masar Institute for Education) to produce brochures delegitimizing Israel’s existence. The brochure compared Israel to the former communist East German state and depicted Jewish pupils in distorted and biased terms.
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The Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor issued to The Jerusalem Post in early October an eye-popping report about a second EVZ-funded school program in which Holocaust funds were ostensibly misappropriated to finance playing down the severity of the Holocaust and promoting hatred of Israel.
According to the report, between March-July 2011, EVZ contributed funds to a partner agency for a program titled “Human Rights – Rights of Occupation,” with the German (Anne Frank School in Gütersloh) and Palestinian (School of Hope in Ramallah) students.
The NGO Monitor document notes that “while Palestinian participants questioned “whether the Holocaust had really happened to that extent,” the main focus was devoted to alleging Israeli violations and immorality, not on Holocaust education.
In July 2011, the Anne Frank School hosted Hajo Meyer, a Holocaust survivor and anti- Israel activist. In his presentation, Meyer referred to the “criminal State of Israel.” He also “wanted to express that many Jews today feel that no one else suffered like them during the Holocaust, which makes them blind for the suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation.”
:Meyer, who lives in Holland, has argued that “the earliest cause for anti-Semitism is situated in Jewry.”
The prominent German-Jewish journalist, Henryk M. Broder, has slammed Meyer as an “expert on applied Judeophobia” who traffics in the “brown filth”of the Nazi era.
The head of NGO Monitor, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, told the Post that “the latest revelations about the Remembrance Responsibility Future Foundation are morally shocking and unacceptable. Instead of teaching young Palestinians who are taught to question whether the Holocaust ever happened, the Foundation has created programs that exploit this tragedy as part of the demonization of Israel. The role of Hajo Meyer, an elderly Holocaust survivor, in this effort adds to the moral abuse.”
Steinberg continued: “To say that this contributes to delegitimization of Israel and modern anti-Semitism understates the case. Instead of using the funding to educate about and compensate victims of the Holocaust, the EVZ sponsors programs for German students that reflect the political war against Israel, and greatly distort the Arab-Israeli conflict. German foundations and their officials have a particular obligation to be sensitive to such unacceptable activities.”
According to the website of the German school – named after German-Jewish teenager Anne Frank who was murdered in Bergen-Belsen – from her name a program has been established as a “point of reference for value assessments.”
Post phone and e-mail queries seeking a comment from Gunnar Weykam, a teacher at the school who runs the exchange program, were not answered as to why the school participates in anti- Israel activities and permits the Holocaust to be downplayed. Weykam coordinates the school’s “Palestine Project.”
Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s legal advisor, told the Post: “This program needs much more than changes and evaluation. EVZ must shut down immediately, and only begin again once the entire program, committee members, and staff has been entirely revamped.”
She added that “The German government not only has failed to compensate Holocaust victims – but by its onesided and obsessive focus on alleged Israeli ‘sins,’ it seems that the money has been used to minimize the Jewish experience, while at the same time heightening the inflammatory rhetoric and tension surrounding the conflict.”
Katja Wegner, a spokeswoman for the EVZ, told the Post, that EVZ doled out 17,100 euros for the program, which the Anne Frank school took part in. In a statement issued to the Post, EVZ defended the Anne Frank school exchange program, saying it contributes to a “different perception of Jews through Palestinians” and combats “anti- Semitism and hostility toward Israel.”
Jewish NGOs and academic experts on anti-Semitism in Germany accuse the EVZ with stoking hatred of the Jewish state and ignoring modern expressions of anti-Semitism in Germany.
The EVZ was founded in 2000 with a contribution of 5.2 billion euros by the Federal German government and German industry to compensate former slave and forced laborers during the Nazi period.
NGO Monitor cited in its report on the pro-Palestinian activities of the Anne Frank school that “as part of this program, the German students concentrated ‘on article 17 of the UN Human Rights Charter of 1948, in which the right to ‘own property by yourself as well as together with others’ was established. The German students have discovered and documented through conversations with victims, lawyers, human-rights workers and peace activists, whether, that and how the State of Israel violates this right.”
According to NGO Monitor: “During an August 2011 meeting with the mayor of Gütersloh, the students ‘discussed the question what our responsibility for the German past means and if it doesn’t implicate that we need to criticize all human rights violations, no matter who commits them.”
The German students met with Farida Amad in April 2011, during a visit to the “women’s society Inash-Il- Osra” in Al-Bireh. Amad said “Maybe we can’t liberate Palestine in 50, 80 or 100 years, but I’m 100 percent convinced that there will be a time when we get it back,” noted the NGO Monitor report.
Multiple e-mails and phone queries to Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy who sits on the EVZ Board of Trustees and frequently issues statements about countering anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel, were not returned in connection with financial mismanagement at EVZ.