On Thursday, during a visit to Berlin, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles called German publisher Jakob Augstein an anti-Semite. This after the SWC had included comments made by Augstein in its list of the top 10 anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs of 2012, the Spiegel reported.
“Based on his behavior and his words since the release of the list, we can say, yes, we are dealing with an anti-Semite,” Cooper reiterated, explaining that the list was focused on anti-Semitic slurs, not necessarily on the individual.
In Berlin, Rabbi Cooper criticized a column written by Augstein for Spiegel Online on the issue of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews.
Augstein has witten:
“Israel is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in its neighborhood. But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim. They are not a small splinter group. They make up 10% of the Israeli population. They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.”
Cooper said at a Thursday’s forum in Berlin that he wants to know from Augstein how many suicide attacks have been carried out by Haredi Jews within and outside of Israel. Because of their appearance, he said, Haredi Jews were some of the first victims of the Nazi regime. Recently, he said, they have been killed in France and attacked on the streets of Berlin.
Here are the rest of the quotes provided by the SWC in its “2012 Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs” (PDF):
“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 Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.”
“Israel’s nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world. This statement has triggered an outcry. Because it’s true. And because it was made by a German, Guenter Grass, author and Nobel Prize winner. That is the key point. One must, therefore, thank him for taking it upon himself to speak for us all.”
“The fire burns in Libya, Sudan, Yemen, in countries which are among the poorest on earth. But those who set the fires live elsewhere. Furious young people burn the American, and recently, the German flag. They, too, are victims, just like the dead at Benghazi and Sanaa. Whom does this all this violence benefit? Always the insane and unscrupulous. And this time it’s the U.S. Republicans and Israeli government.”
“Gaza is a place out of the end of times….1.7 million people live there on 360 sq. kilometers. Israel incubates its own opponents there.”
It may be debatable whether all the above statements are outright anti-Semitic or simply critical, and, indeed, several public individuals have come out in protest of the SWC’s inclusion of Augstein in a list that features Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and the Iranian regime.
“The choice of Jakob Augstein for ninth place on the list of the 10 worst anti-Semites is a serious intellectual and strategic error made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center,” wrote the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Not only has a critical journalist been placed in a group into which he doesn’t belong, the nine other people and groups who have justifiably been pilloried can now exculpate themselves by pointing to such arbitrariness.”
Rabbi Cooper, for his part, said Augstein has had the opportunity to reflect on his statements and to apologize to his German readers and to the Jewish people, which he has not done.
Augstein has rejected the accusations, and the Central Council of Jews in Germany criticized Augstein’s statements, even though the council’s president Dieter Graumann has said that Augstein does not belong on the list, and Council Vice President Salomon Korn said about Augstein: “I never had the impression that what he wrote was anti-Semitic.”
Perhaps the honorable Graumann and Korn could provide that much needed data concerning Haredi suicide bombers.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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