Experts blasted a major German newspaper’s recent usage of Nazi-like terminology to blame Israel for Palestinian terrorist attacks, Benjamin Weinthal reported Saturday in The Jerusalem Post.
Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Germany’s largest broadsheet, recently published an article titled “Israel suffers for its cycle of revenge” by its Jerusalem correspondent Peter Münch. The article quoted Said Zidani, a Palestinian philosophy professor who defended Palestinian terrorism as being not just out of “desperation but [as] an act of resistance…” Münch denied that Zidani’s comment amounted to justifying violence, but experts on anti-Semitism who spoke to the Post disagreed.
Prof. Monika Schwarz-Friesel, who has studied anti-Semitic language in Germany, said that the article’s headline “[projected] classical anti-Jewish stereotypes onto the Jewish state.”
“The stereotype of Jewish revenge/vengefulness is an age-old Judeophobia concept that was articulated by the National Socialists,” she added. She also pointed out that in his speeches, SS head Heinrich Himmler called not just for the extermination of Jewish adults but also of Jewish children so that they could not seek revenge.
Schwarz-Friesel, a professor of linguistics at the Technical University of Berlin, asked regarding SZ, “Why does a German newspaper’s editorial office continue to consistently have the potential to evoke anti-Semitic thoughts and feelings in its headlines and articles regarding Israel and remain unfazed by all criticism of the rhetoric?”
This isn’t the first time that SZ has been accused of using anti-Semitic language or imagery. A cartoon that appeared in the paper in 2014 had portrayed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, as an octopus with a large nose swallowing the world.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wisenthal Center, said that the paper’s “tepid” response to the Zuckerberg cartoon didn’t convince him “that they were unaware that the grotesque use of Nazi-like animalization was obviously inappropriate and never should have seen the light of day.” He added regarding the new controversy, “Only a biased moron would characterize Israel’s desperate efforts to protect pregnant mothers, children and the elderly from knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists as a ‘cycle of revenge.’”
According to Dr. Matthias Küntzel, a Hamburg-based political scientist and expert on modern German anti-Semitism, “The SZ headline not only calls into question Israel’s right to self-defense but at the same time uses the anti-Semitic stereotype of the ‘vengeful’ Jew, who allegedly is driven by irrational and archaic motives.”
“It is disheartening to see SZ increasingly promote anti-Semitic tropes,” observed Charles Asher Small, the director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism. “The latest trend is to minimize and justify Palestinian terrorism against Jews, as an expected result of the conflict. In addition, to blame the prime minister of Israel for the supposed migration of citizens of Israel, is not substantiated by facts and reflects a bias against the Jewish state.”
Small added that the disproportionate focus on Israel is “irrational,” especially at a time when “hundreds of thousands” are being massacred and millions of refugees are being created in nearby Syria.
The Post also quoted Deidre Berger, the head of the Berlin-based office of the American Jewish Committee, who called SZ‘s coverage of the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism “one-sided,” saying that it trivialized the terrorist attacks by equating them with “Israeli responses to the terror.”
“The article lacks journalistic balance, relying on assertions that reverse the context of the terrorist attacks, depicting Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs as victims instead of as perpetrators,” Berger elaborated. “The quotations and examples used create imagery of an unending circle of violence driven by alleged Israeli motives for revenge. Imputing motives of revenge to Israeli counterterrorism efforts to stop the violence is a dangerous allegation: One of the oldest anti-Semitic stereotypes is the assertion that Jews have an innate lust for revenge. It is a perilous myth to ascribe revenge as a national characteristic. Instead, we should be looking at Israel as one of the front-line nations countering terrorism to defend our common core Western values.”
[Photo: Süddeutsche Zeitung / Wikimedia Commons ]