Monday, July 25, 2016

It was already four years ago that the Simon Wiesenthal Center included the fairly prominent left-wing German journalist and publisher Jakob Augstein in its annual list [pdf] of people and groups responsible for the “Top 10 Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs.” The ensuing controversy was explained in an excellent Tablet article by James Kirchick.
A few days ago, it became clear that this controversy still reverberates: when Augstein reacted to news about the massive crack-down that followed the recent coup attempt in Turkey by declaring nonchalantly on Twitter that “Turkey’s democracy is none of our business; it’s up to the Turkish people,” Many people noted that his attitude to Israel (and the US) was markedly different. There was also astonishment that the staunch leftist would use the term “the Turkish people;” many noted in response that Augstein seems to feel no concern for Turkey’s minorities, particularly the Kurds. Unfazed by all this criticism, Augstein doubled down with another tweet asking: “What if the Turks have different requirements for their democracy than we for ours?” Again, this was an attitude that Augstein apparently reserves for Islamist governments mercilessly cracking down on their real or perceived opponents.

A sarcastic comment by the always brilliant Walter Russell Mead could serve as an excellent rejoinder to Augstein’s eagerness to overlook the alarming developments in Turkey: reacting to the news that the crack-down extended to universities, schools, hospitals, associations, foundations and unions, Mead mocked the argument that these measures were the prerogative of Turkey’s democratically elected government by tweeting “Thank goodness the forces of democracy broke the coup, or terrible news would be coming out of Turkey today.”

Quite obviously, Augstein’s stance doesn’t make sense, because what is going on in Turkey is very consequential for Europe, and it is arguably particularly important for Germany, where Turks form the largest ethnic minority and the largest group of non-citizens. Then there is the little matter of the endless debates and negotiations about Turkey’s accession to the European Union (EU), which has meant that Turkey’s democracy and its policies have long been seen as issues that are very much also the EU’s business. Moreover, given that Turkey is a NATO member, concerns about the current crack-down are all the more warranted.
To be sure, German media are full of critical commentaries about the developments in Turkey. One report, entitled “Alarm in Germany over Turkey” even notes that a prominent German history professor argued that the measures taken by Erdogan “amounted to a ‘total seizure of power’” as described in history textbooks “and exemplified in 1933 when democracy was eliminated in Germany by the National Socialists (Nazis) under Adolf Hitler.”
Since this history professor is known as a strong supporter of Israel, Augstein is likely to disagree with him on principle.
Augstein’s eagerness to shield Turkey’s repressive Islamist government from criticism throws his eagerness to criticize Israel into stark relief. In this context it is worthwhile to revisit and update the controversy that ensued in the wake of the Wiesenthal Center’s attempt to name and shame Augstein. In the already cited article from January 2013, James Kirchick summarized the case against Augstein as follows [emphasis added]:
To prove its case against Augstein, the Wiesenthal Center highlighted five excerpts from his articles over the past year. In one April column, Augstein alleged that “the president [of the United States] must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups” in order to stay in office. In the same column, he wrote that “the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.” In another column from November, Augstein wrote that, “the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim,” who are “cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.” In that same piece he referred to the Gaza Strip as a “lager,” a German word meaning “prison camp” which is redolent of the Nazi era. And then, in a piece endorsing Grass, he wrote that “Israel’s nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world.”
Kirchick rightly notes that Augstein’s views are fairly common “in the world of anti-Israel polemicism.” However, according to him, “arguably the worst of Augstein’s columns was one from September that initially garnered the Center’s attention. The subject was the riots that erupted in response to the crude video lampooning the prophet Muhammed.” Augstein wrote there [emphasis added]:
The fire is burning in Libya, Sudan, Yemen, in countries that are among the poorest in the world. But the arsonists sit elsewhere. The angry young men, who burn the American—and more recently, German—flags are as much victims as the dead of Benghazi and Sana’a. Who benefits from such violence? Only the madmen and the unscrupulous. And this time also—as an aside—the U.S. Republicans and the Israeli government.”
As Kirchick went on to explain:
Arguments resorting to “Cui bono?” usually have a conspiratorial odor, and this one was no exception. Once again, the lazy moral equivalence characteristic of Augstein’s writing was apparent in his comparing the murdered American Ambassador Chris Stephens with the rent-a-mobs, who regularly ignite American flags at an imam’s whim, as analogous “victims.” Augstein’s rant also displayed an astonishing unfamiliarity with regional politics, for if he knew the first thing about the Israeli government he so despises, he would be aware that it is hardly made up of people enthusiastic about the changes the so-called Arab Spring has wrought.”
Last December, Augstein again attracted criticism when he noted in a column about far-right groups in France and Germany that “fascism was not just a phenomenon of the past,” while asserting at the same time that it was not surprising that the German far-right “had no problem with Israel” because the Israeli government was equally far-right. And while Augstein was worried about fascist tendencies on the far-right, he saw no reason to worry about antisemitism.
Now Herr Augstein sees no reason to criticize Turkey’s repressive Islamist government. He probably regards Erdogan and his AKP as “moderate” Islamists – very different from Israel’s terrible “ultra-orthodox Haredim,” who, as Herr Augstein sees it, are “cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.” Incidentally, “Law of Revenge” was the title of the column where Augstein not only asserted that Israel’s ultra-orthodox were the equivalent of Hamas, but where he also insinuated that Israel was fighting against Hamas only because – just like Hamas – Israel was motivated by the “law of revenge.”
Let’s conclude with a few recent headlines:
Erdogan’s revenge: Turkey’s president is destroying the democracy that Turks risked their lives to defend.” (The Economist)
Mr. Erdogan’s Reckless Revenge” (NYT editorial)
Looks like someone is following “the law of revenge” – if only there was a way to blame Israel for it...

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz



Follow by Email



For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Interesting Blogs


#PayForSlay Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews AmericanZionism Amnesty analysis anti-semitism anti-Zionism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art Ashrawi ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Bernie Sanders Biden history Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision Clark Kent coexistence Comix Community Standards conspiracy theories COVID-19 Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry Ghassan Daghlas gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW hum Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor huor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia international law interview intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya James Zogby jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter Joe Biden John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Judith Butler Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Mairav Zonszein Malaysia Marc Lamont Hill Marjorie Taylor Greene max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Lynk Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO Nick Cannon NIF Noah Phillips norpac NSU Matrix NYT Occupation offbeat olive oil Omar Barghouti Only in Israel Opinion Opinon oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB philosophy poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals RealJerusalemStreets reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Landes Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians Seth Rogen settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Sovereignty Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Trump Lame Duck Test Tunisia Turkey UAE Accord UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks Winstanley work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zionophobia Ziophobia Zvi

Blog Archive