Wiesenthal Center Official Praises Merkel for Confronting Morsi on his Anti-Semitism; Blasts German Journalist for Failing to Apologize for Slandering Religious Jews

January 31, 2013

Some 60 journalists attended a press conference today in Berlin (pictured) which focused on the 2012 Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs compiled by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (see: http://www.wiesenthal.com/atf/cf/%7B54d385e6-f1b9-4e9f-8e94-890c3e6dd277%7D/TT_2012_3.PDF) and on the case of the German journalist Jakob Augstein. The Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin organized the event and invited Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and political scientist Dr. Matthias Küntzel to discuss questions on the issue with the attending journalists.

Rabbi Cooper praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for directly confronting visiting Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for labeling Jews 'warmongers' and 'sons of apes and pigs'. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were listed as number one on the Center's top ten anti-Semitic slurs.

"We are grateful that Chancellor Merkel confronted him. Morsi is seeking 14 Billion Euro in aid from the US, World Bank, Germany and other western countries. The world cannot tolerate such hate to manifest by the government of the Arab world's largest and most influential nation," said Rabbi Cooper.

Rabbi Cooper then discussed number nine on the Center’s list, journalist Jacob Augstein: "Augstein has confirmed himself as an anti-Semite. He had the opportunity to apologize for attacks on Israel and religious Jews. Instead he chose to reaffirm his anti-Semitic views in a debate with a German Jewish leader published in Der Spiegel.”

Cooper particularly highlighted Augstein’s statements about the Haredim. Augstein had compared Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jews with Islamic fundamentalists and declared they follow a 'law of revenge'. "It is unfortunate that Jakob Augstein used baseless and slanderous stereotypes in his statements about the Haredim. A significant percentage of the 6 million victims of the Shoah were religious Jews, they were the first to be attacked on the streets of Germany and Austria. To declare eighty years after Hitler’s rise to power that religious Jews would follow a ‘law of revenge’, that they would call for violence and to compare them to Islamists is the ultimate chutzpah,” Cooper added. "And in 2013 religious Jews are targeted on the streets of Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen and Malmo," he concluded.

Hamburg-based political scientist Dr. Matthias Küntzel, a world-renowned expert on anti-Semitism analyzed the debate on Augstein and anti-Semitism in Germany. He said that many journalists had defended Augstein too quickly: “Read his words. Are they appropriate, are they defensible?” asked Küntzel and added: “Like it was common to be against Jews in the past, it has become common to be against Israel today. The debate, which the Simon Wiesenthal Center started, was necessary because anti-Semitism in Germany is underestimated.” Küntzel encouraged the attendants to start a debate on journalism and anti-Semitism.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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