Friday, January 27, 2017

German Muslim students protest Holocaust remembrance, attack Israel

Muslim students with Arab and Turkish origins protested participation in an International Holocaust remembrance event for the liberation of the German extermination camp Auschwitz on January, 27­ while the school management showed understanding for their criticism of Israel. “Some Muslims students said they would not participate in the action,” said Florian Beer, a teacher at the school in the city of Gelsenkirchen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, reported the paper Der Westen on Thursday. The Holocaust Remembrance event is part of a global commemoration action to take selfie photographs with a sign saying “I Remember“ or “We Remember.“ A remembrance plaque at the school was desecrated with the sentence: “F*** Israel, free Palestine.” The school was not able to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday, “First, Muslims students are greatest in need of Holocaust education, so it would be unfortunate if they were excused from those activities.” Zuroff, who is the Wiesenthal’s chief Nazi-hunter, added “Given that Holocaust consciousness is a central idea of civic identity in the Federal Republic, it [Holocaust remembrance] is doubly important for families that come from countries with deep antisemitic traditions and no knowledge of the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry.” The Weiterbildungskolleg Emscher-Lippe school, where the protest unfolded, has 500 students, 40% of whom have a migrant background. The school director Günter Jahn told Der Westen said he finds it good that there was student opposition to the remembrance event. “It is important that there is criticism. That is the basis for a discussion.“ He added that in certain communities, criticism of Israel is demanded. The school is located in the northern part of the Ruhr region and Gelsenkirchen’s population in 2015 was roughly 260,000. Some of the German Muslim students allowed themselves to be photographed with the remembrance signs but declined to permit the photographs to be displayed in the Internet. A number of students, according to Der Westen, asked, “Why always the Jews?” The students added there are, after all, other problems in world. Beer, the teacher, said the school likes to provoke because there are always actions at the school that leave an "aftertaste of antisemitism." He said representatives from the World Jewish Congress have been invited to the school. A report from the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, which was released on Sunday, said the number of reported antisemitic attacks doubled from 2015 to 2016 in Germany. The actual number of antisemtiic attacks is believed to be higher because of the lack of standards to identify contemporary antisemitism in Germany. In January, a German court reaffirmed a legal decision from the city of Wuppertal stating the torching of a synagogue by three Muslims was not motivated by antisemtiism. The court wrote the men only sought via the arson of the synagogue “to clearly draw attention to the blazing conflict between Israel and Palestinians” during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Germans in 1938. Volker Beck, a German Green Party MP, said on Thursday ,” the memorial day for the victims of National Socialism must have consequences.” Beck, who has led the parliamentary fight to blunt the mushrooming modern antisemitism in Germany, said “antisemitism frequently appears clothed as anti-Zionism.” He cited three German academic institutions that stoked anti-Israel propaganda that delegitimizes the Jewish democratic state. ”Whoever boycotts Israelis or Israeli institutions, because they are Jews, acts in an antisemitic way,” said Beck, who appears to be the only German deputy to connect the remembrance of the Holocaust with efforts to combat contemporary antisemtism targeting the Jewish state. The University of Hamburg appointed the South African academic Farid Esack, a leader of the South African anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, to serve as a guest lecturer of Islamic theology at the university. Esack praised the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine convicted terrorist Leila Khaled at a 2015 BDS fund raiser. “This is a man who expressed anti-Semitic statements, and who is sympathetic to Holocaust denial,” the Israeli embassy in Germany told the Post. “A person with such views has no place as an educator in a university, in particular not in Germany; due to both professional as well as moral and probably also legal reasons.” Post email queries to the University of Hamburg’s president Dr. Dieter Lenzen were not returned. The Max Planck Institute hosted the pro-Hezbollah activist Norman Finkelstein on Monday. He delivered a lecture sympathetic to the US and EU designated terrorist organization Hamas to over 30 higher education students. The head of the Max Planck Institute Dr. Martin Stratmann declined to respond to Post requests for an interview about the alleged spread of new forms of antisemitism at the Planck Institute in the city of Halle.

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