As recently reported in The Jerusalem Post, Ken Jacobson, the deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League added his comments on the growing German imbroglio over overtly anti-Semitic statements made by Jakob Augstein, columnist for the German publication, Der Spiegel.
Having launched scathing attacks on both Jews and Israel on numerous occasions in his column, Augstein achieved the dubious distinction of inclusion on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of the top ten anti-Semitic offenders of 2012.
In an interview with the paper, Jacobson said that the statement made by Augstein about Jewish domination of US foreign policy, “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking.”
Citing Augstein’s quote as it appeared in his column: “With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Binyamin Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant”, Jacobson said Augstein’s perspectives are “contaminated with conspiratorial anti-Semitism.”
Just as the Wiesenthal Center does, the Anti-Defamation League which is based in New York scrupulously monitors contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe in general and in Germany in particular.
Commenting on another egregious Augstein quote in which he asserted that Chareidim (ultra-Orthodox Chasidic Jews) were tantamount to Islamic terrorists, Jacobson said that this “crosses the line into stereotypes of Jews,” but added that “anti-Israel criticism is not necessarily anti- Semitic.”
The polemical nature of Augstein’s words has created a sharp division amongst the Jews of Germany. Media sources have reported that Salomon Korn, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said Augstein’s writings are not anti-Semitic. Taking issue with the Wiesenthal Center for including Augstein on its list of purveyors of anti-Semitisn, Korn alleged that the organization “does not know German relations.”
Dr. Dieter Graumann, the leader of the Central Council, also stated that he was not in total agreement with Augstein’s inclusion on the Wiesenthal list, but did say that the columnists diatribes aimed at Israel were “dreadful and not nuanced,” and that he apparently has an “Israel obsession” and “spreads anti- Jewish resentments.”
According to a report in Die Judische Allgemeine, the main German Jewish newspaper, Graumann also noted that Augstein’s Der Spiegel columns contribute to an “anti-Israel atmosphere” in the Federal Republic.
Those in agreement with Augstein’s placement of number nine on the 2012 Wiesenthal list is Dr. Alexander Brenner, former head of Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin who spoke to the Jerusalem Post last week.
Excoriating Korn as an “alibi Jew” – (a phrase frequently used by German Jews to describe a small group of fringe Jews who protect anti-Semites and anti- Israel critics from rebuke in the public square). Brenner, who holds a seat in the directorate of the Central Council and on the representative board of the Berlin community, said Korn’s behavior made him want “to throw up,” since Augstein is, “without question an anti-Semite.”
A popular Jewish leader in Berlin, Brenner called on the council to stand in support of the Wiesenthal Center and Henryk Broder, the first German journalist to categorize Augstein’s writings as anti-Semitic.
Augstein has told the German media that he does not know what prompted him to be placed on the Wiesenthal list and said his inclusion only hurts “critical journalism” because it will be stigmatized as anti-Semitic or racist.