Neoconservatives, right-wing pro-Zionist defenders of Israel’s and of the US-Empire’s crimes against humanity do everything to immunize Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, its violations of human rights and its distain for international law against criticism by labeling it “anti-Semitism”. Concerning Jewish criticism is labeled “Jewish self-Hatred”. Concerning Israel’s occupation policy towards the Palestinian people, both characterizations are misnomers. The German-Jewish polemicist Henryk M. Broder specializes in inciting smear campaigns against people who do not share his outlandish views on the Israeli occupation. For the foreign audiences, some traits of Broder could explain his odd personality.
Broder is an outspoken islamophob. In 2006, he published an anti-Islamic pamphlet entitled: “Hurrah, we capitulate. The desire of carving in.” (Hurra, wir kapitulieren! Von der Lust am Einknicken.) In this book, he presents a heterogeneous sample of incidents that are supposed to prove his weird assumptions about Islam and Muslims. Broder’s writings even made it into the so-called “Manifest” of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. He and some of his pro-Israeli and pro-American neoconservatives’ friends run a strange website with the telling name “The axis of good” (Die Achse des Guten), on which they argue inter alia against the thesis of climate change. Some of the more serious journalist left already this notorious company. Broder’s writings are sometimes riddled with misanthropic cynism such as “… it’s more fun to be a perpetrator than a victim” or that it cannot be denied that the Palestinians were expelled by the Zionist “but not far enough”. He calls himself a “reactionary”.
His latest slander was directed at Jakob Augstein. He is the adopted son of the founder of the magazine “Der Spiegel”, Rudolf Augstein. Jakob Augstein himself is the publisher of the weekly “der Freitag” and a columnist for the website “Spiegel-online”. Five articles out of one hundred dealt with the right wing policy of the Israeli government, one with anti-Semitism. In this one, Augstein warned of using anti-Semitism too often as a ”weapon” against any criticism of Israel’s policy because it would not only distract from actual anti-Semitism in Germany but also devalue the campaign against real anti-Semites. “Every criticism of Israel must expect to be denounced as an anti-Semite. This is a dangerous misuse of the term. In the shadow of such a false debate flourishes a genuine anti-Semitism”, wrote Augstein on November 26, 2012.
Concerning Israeli policy Augstein used standard descriptions of Israel’s wrongdoings and the ensuing consequences of it, such as creating new enemies by its policy towards the Gaza Strip, which he called a “camp”. What else did Augstein write about Israel that earned him the accusation of anti-Semitism? He wrote for example that increasingly, critics of Israel’s occupation policy are being accused by the “argument” of being “anti-Semetic”. “Thus, the term loses its meaning and the issue its dignity. All of that benefits the real enemies of the Jews, and it harms Israel.”
Perhaps Augstein’s real “sin” was his defense of the Nobel Laureate in literature, Guenter Grass, who wrote a political “poem” in which he insinuated inter alia that Israel is a bigger threat to world peace than Iran. The entire media class in total fell on Grass. Only Jakob Augstein defended him, which was very courageous. Didn’t he only do his job as a critical journalist? It is not without irony that Broder worked once for the left-leaning magazine “Der Spiegel” before descending to the neoconservative right-wing daily “Die Welt”.
Against Augstein’s critique of Israel Broder pulled out his big stick. “Jakob Augstein is not an arms chair anti-Semite, he is a flawless anti-Semite, an anti-Semitic filthy tongue, a politically motivated criminal, who has been deprived only through the grace of late birth of the opportunity to make a carrier in the Reich Security Main Office.” Beyond that, he compared Augstein to the infamous Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher who published the anti-Semitic and pornographic smear sheet “Der Stürmer”. Broder later apologized, but only for the last invective. It’s not surprising that almost only the lunatic fringe in Germany from his house gazette and some other borderline publications defended Broder. His close friend Hamed Abdel-Samad commented: “Mr. Broder seems to be born to spread follies throughout the world.” He did not want to deny the question whether Broder is a “fool”! At the expense of the payers of the radio license fees, both went on a “Germany Safari” to search for “anti-Semites”. They also went on a “Europe Safari” but did not want to go on a “Gaza Safari”. This was television “at its best”. Two clowns shot a soap opera.
There would not have been a “scandal” about Augstein’s alleged anti-Semitism, had the Simon-Wiesenthal-Center (SWC) in Los Angeles not have joined Broder’s rhetoric bandwagon effect. The SWC used Broder’s alleged expertise as justification for placing Augstein on ninth position of its list of the world’s most dangerous anti-Semites! The famous Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, incidentally, ranked third. He was only outdone by the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood and Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Latuff’s cartoons are famous for their direct messages that always hit the nail on the head. With this “hit list” of alleged anti-Semites the SWC may have shot in its own foot.
Even the Central Council of Jews in Germany, a staunchly pro-Israel organization, defended Agustein against Broder’s bizarre allegations. The vice-president of the organization, Salomon Korn, said on “German Radio”: “I’ve read some of his articles, it was not very much. I never had the impression that what he wrote is anti-Semitic.” The president of the Central Council, Dieter Graumann, and Augstein held a debate organized by in the magazine “The Spiegel” in which Graumann denied that Augstein is an “anti-Semite”. He did not like some of Augstein’s phrases he used in his articles that were written without “empathy” for Israel. “Your columns are outrageous.” Augstein rebuffed all of Graumann’s arguments as baseless. Graumann’s definition of anti-Semitism included only the “classical” anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews. All of these did not apply to Augstein’s writings. That was already a foregone conclusion before Broder with the Simon-Wiesenthal-Center in tow started this smear campaign. Both have done the real anti-Semites a disservice.
The best and timeless definition about anti-Semitism was given by Theodor W. Adorno: “Anti-Semitism is the rumor about Jews.” To the Broders’ of the world: Criticism of the occupation policy of the Israeli government plus criticism of Zionism has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Broder simper idem! In the future he’ll determine solely who is an “anti-Semite”!