On Monday, the prestigious German magazine Der Spiegel published an article accusing two civic organizations of exercising outsized influence in the German parliament—which, it claims, resulted in the passage of a bill condemning the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) as a manifestation of anti-Semitism. Earlier, similar assertions about goings-on in Germany had been leveled in Haaretz, long the premier newspaper of the Israeli left. Marc Neugroschel comments:
The two associations that the Spiegel piece targets are the “Initiative for Values,” a German Jewish civil-society group, and the “Middle East Peace Forum,” an NGO that, according to unsubstantiated Spiegel allegations, acts on behalf of the Netanyahu government. Indeed, both groups have spoken out openly for the Bundestag’s recent anti-BDS motion. Yet the Spiegel article portrays . . . democratic participation by civil society as sinister and illegitimate manipulation on behalf of an alien country: Israel. This is anti-Semitism in its purest form.
The same kind of conspiratorial delusions plague the Haaretz writer Ilana Hammerman. The headline of her recently published op-ed reads: “The evil new apparition that is stalking Germany today: criticism of Israeli policy has been banned and persecuted as anti-Semitism, and those pulling the strings sit in Israel.”
The quintessence of her piece is that the Israeli government has been active in Germany to incite against Muslims and to silence criticism of Israel. In order to corroborate her point, she slanders a recent presentation by the German-Israeli author Arye Shalicar at Berlin’s Humboldt University as “arrogant, toxic, and racist incitement, mostly against Muslims,” on behalf of the Israeli government. In fact, in her almost-2,000-word-long op-ed, Hammerman does not produce one single quotation that would substantiate her charge that Shalicar’s talk was racist or anti-Muslim. [Nor was] Shalicar speaking on behalf of the Israeli government.
The charge that anti-Semitism isn’t real, but rather invoked to silence criticism of Israel, is a classic adaptation of the age-old anti-Semitic myth that Jews manipulate and thereby control public opinion. As early as 1879, the anti-Semitic German historian Heinrich von Treitschke—who coined the notorious phrase “the Jews are our misfortune”—wrote: “Whoever dared to criticize the undeniable weaknesses of the Jewish character was denounced by almost all of the press as a barbarian and as a discriminator of a religious group.” . . . It is one of the great ironies of anti-Semitism that its proponents claim to be silenced, as more of them actually speak out to spread their toxic ideas.