Anti-Zionist Jews fight anti-Semitism charge

Anti-Zionist Jews fight anti-Semitism charge


Written by: Jenny Bourne

An action against the accusation of anti-Semitism brought by a prominent Jewish anti-Zionist in the UK has been settled out of court, but in Germany, the appeal court in Frankfurt recently upheld an accusation that an anti-Zionist holocaust survivor was in fact anti-Semitic and suffering from self-hatred.

In the UK, in July 2007, Michael Ezra posted on David Aaronovitch’s Times blog a comment asserting that anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein spent his time ‘harassing Jews’ and, for the past thirty years, had intimidated Jewish students at NUS conferences. The blog was moderated by journalist Aaronovitch who was therefore held responsible for its contents. Tony Greenstein issued proceedings on the basis that the comment on the site accused him of incitement to racial hatred under s.3A of the Race Relations Act. Aaronovitch published an apology on 26 November saying that he did not mean to suggest that Tony had been breaking the law for thirty years or that he was anti-Semitic. By way of damages, £1,000 was paid to Friends of Berzeit University, as requested by Greenstein, and £50 paid in expenses.

Greenstein won the right to be critical of Zionism and the actions of Israel within public forums (including student circles) without his conduct being labelled anti-Semitic. But in Germany, a court of appeal in Frankfurt in November, upheld the claim by German Jewish journalist Henryk M Broder that Jewish self-hatred and Jewish anti-Semitism did exist in the work of a Jewish author and his publisher.

In 2005 Broder wrote a blog article, ‘Holo with Hajo: how two Jews did the Adolf in Leipzig’ which satirised publisher Abraham Melzer and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer who had written a book entitled, The End of Jewry. Meyer is an outspoken critic of Israel who, amongst other things, has equated Israeli checkpoints with those of the SS. He famously said in reference to the Palestinian cause, ‘Many Jews have not learned the right lessons from Auschwitz, they interpret “never again” to apply only to Jews whereas it should apply to everyone.’ Meyer and Melzer brought a lawsuit asserting libel on the basis that they were being compared to Hitler, that they had been called ‘experts in applied Judeophobia’ and that Melzer had been accused of having discovered ‘a gap that he diligently filled with brown filth’. A regional court declared that Broder was free to use his Hitler mockery but he was prohibited from writing that the two were professional Jew haters and from impugning them on the charge of Jewish anti-Semitism and from repeating the ‘brown filth’ criticism.

But Broder appealed against the decision. And, at the appeal hearing in November 2007, the judge ruled that it was permissible to call the two ‘experts in applied Judeophobia’ as was the ‘Adolf in Leipzig’ description. ‘Henryk Broder is allowed to say that he considers Meyer’s theses anti-Semitic and can formulate it this way’, concluded the judge.

Journalist Alex Feuerherdt, who was present at the appeal, believes that the judge, who suggested in court that the highly charged American debate over Jewish anti-Zionism had arrived in Germany, had, though he did not say so explicitly, been influenced by the work of US professor Alvin Rosenfield. In 2006 Rosenfield wrote a controversial essay, ‘”Progressive” Jewish thought and the New Anti-Semitism’ which criticised the way North American Jews were contributing to a new form of anti-Semitism by criticising Israel and Zionism. Broder’s ironic term for this supposed new phenomenon is ‘kosher anti-Semitism’.

Related links

Indymedia article: ‘Aaronovitch Apologises for Anti-Semitism Accusation’

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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