Haaretz: Why neo-Nazis Love the BDS Movement so much (& Berlin museum boss forced out)

June 17, 2019

German neo-Nazi party Die Rechte boasts on Twitter about hanging a poster with the slogan “Israel is our misfortune” on a signpost marking the destroyed synagogue in the German town of Gelsenkirchen.

Both the extreme right and extreme left are now promoting the phrase “Israel is our misfortune,” inspired by the Nazi electoral slogan of 1933, “The Jews are our misfortune.” See also here.



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach an article from today’s Haaretz exploring the increasing way the neo-Nazi right and the extreme “progressive” (and all too often anti-Semitic) left are mimicking each other’s phrases and slogans.

After that, I attach articles from The Jerusalem Post and The New York Times, about the enforced resignation of Peter Schäfer, the director of Berlin’s Jewish museum, on Friday.

This followed widespread criticism of the increasing politicization of the museum (including my quote to the Jerusalem Post last Monday and the fact that the museum had coddled up to the Islamic regime of Iran and promoted Europeans who support the destruction of Israel).

I attach a new front-page story from yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, which included this follow-up quote by myself:

British journalist Tom Gross, who was invited to tour the museum by Schäfer’s office last year and expressed his dismay afterwards to the director’s office at some of the anti-Israel political aspects he saw, told the Jerusalem Post:

“The important thing now, since the museum is currently replacing its permanent exhibit, due to reopen next year, is to make sure Schäfer’s replacement is someone who is more interested in remembering the enormous contributions of Berlin’s Jews to German and world history, and in accurately explaining the sheer sadistic horrors of the Holocaust, rather than engaging in anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, extreme left-wing posturing.”

“Enough is enough,” said Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany. “[Under Schäfer] the Berlin Jewish Museum seems to be completely out of control. Under these circumstances, one has to think about whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate.”

Tom Gross adds: Because of the Holocaust, and because it was opened to great international fanfare in 2001 using the designs of award-winning architect Daniel Libeskind, the Berlin Jewish museum is in some ways the most significant Jewish museum in the world.



Ross Anthony Farca, 23, of Concord, northern California, has been arrested for plotting to emulate the Poway and Pittsburgh synagogue shooters “except with a Nazi uniform on.”

The Mercury News reports that Concord police found an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle with 13 magazines, a 3-foot sword, camouflage clothing, ammunition, and Nazi literature during a search of his home.

His screen name on the Steam platform is “Adolf Hitler (((6 Million))).” He was arrested after an anonymous tip off to the FBI. The FBI said Farca regularly referred to Jews online as “subhumans”.


See also:

* The New York Post: Man hurls subway rider’s phone onto tracks for recording his anti-Semitic slurs

* The Mail on Sunday (London): Jewish teenager who was menaced by racists flees the country - 80 years after his grandfather did the same to escape Nazis

Among previous related dispatches:

* The funeral of David and Cecil Rosenthal (& “Jewish Lives Matter, only if threatened by the right people”)


The alliance of the extreme right and extreme left is happening in other countries too.

* For example, in Britain: “If it quacks like a duck…” (& Holocaust survivor brutally murdered in Paris)

* France: “Macron, whore of the Jews” (& NY Times photographer praises murderer of Jewish baby)

* “Europe will be white” (& ‘Proud Anti-Semite’ bumper sticker ‘sign of the times’ in NY)



Why neo-Nazis Love the BDS Movement So Much
‘Stop Zionism!’ ‘Israel is our misfortune!’ Who said it: ‘progressive’ supporters of the boycott Israel movement – or U.S. white supremacists and German neo-Nazis?
By Petra Marquardt-Bigman
June 17, 2019

It’s been clear for quite some time that “progressive” spaces have a problem with “Zionists” and their “offensive” symbols – including any flags with the most recognizable Jewish symbol, the Star of David, on them.

(Tom Gross adds: See for example The Forward: DC Dyke March Bans Flags with Jewish Stars of David.)

That must be why, when progressive protesters countered a small Ku Klux Klan demonstration in Dayton, Ohio they tried to burn an Israeli flag. Their passionate “anti-Zionism” must have prompted burning the Jewish state’s flag to equate it with KKK white supremacy.

(Tom Gross: Left wingers protesting KKK join with KKK in attacking Jewish symbols.)

But it’s increasingly clear that a similar antipathy for “Zios” energizes the far right. Last weekend, a neo-Nazi, who had come with his buddies to protest the Detroit Pride parade, felt the urge to demonstrate that Jew-haters can also be anti-Zionists when he urinated on an Israeli flag. And the small neo-Nazi German party Die Rechte campaigned for the recent EU elections with the slogan: “Israel is our misfortune.”

That’s quite the common denominator. If, as a progressive, you claim to take the fight against the oldest hatred seriously and find yourself on the same side as neo-Nazis, it’s arguably time to reconsider your views.

Which leads to the critical question: what has facilitated this meeting of minds, rhetoric and action? My answer: the tireless efforts of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

BDS supporters on the far left and far right are only too happy to support the claim that anti-Zionism has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism – and to assert that in fact it is Zionism that equals racism. But if you insist on treating Israel as the Jew of the nations, don’t feign outrage when that is considered anti-Semitic.

This dynamic is playing out clearly in Germany today.

The German parliament recently voted for a non-binding motion denouncing BDS as anti-Semitic. The motion pointed out the undeniable similarity between the BDS movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers on Israeli products and the “Don’t buy from Jews” slogan of the Nazis.

Cue the “progressive” backlash, most clearly expressed by the Hamas-friendly Electronic Intifada, which bitterly complained that the German parliament had “smeared” the “quest for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic.”

Similar-sounding arguments were raised by Jewish and Israeli academics, German Near East experts and Haaretz itself.

When the Jewish Museum in Berlin shared on Twitter a petition calling BDS “a legitimate and nonviolent tool of resistance,” Israel’s Ambassador to Germany called it “shameful,” and The Central Council of Jews in Germany asked whether the museum can even “continue to claim to be a “Jewish” museum at all,” in light of its opposition to a move aimed to end discrimination against Jews. Days later, the director of the museum resigned “to prevent further damage to the museum.”

So when Germany’s far-right “Die Rechte” party chose its “Israel is our misfortune” slogan, they were not only well aware that it mirrored the Nazi-era “Der Stürmer” rallying cry: “The Jews are our misfortune.” They were obviously also well aware of the determined efforts to deny that demonizing Israel is anti-Semitic - and felt emboldened to freely advertise this new “acceptable” face of hate.

Posters with the “Israel is our misfortune” slogan in bold print, framed by calls in smaller print to “Stop Zionism” and to “Put an end to it!” were proudly displayed wherever the party campaigned in the EU elections.

The party’s poor showing in the elections (0.1 percent of the total vote) shouldn’t overshadow its activists’ sense of achievement in managing to attach one of their “Israel is our misfortune” posters to a signpost marking the location of the synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in the German town of Gelsenkirchen.

A sinister, boasting tweet alluded to fantasies of lynching: “Now they also hang at the synagogue... our posters!” In 1937, that same street had been renamed after “Der Stürmer.”

The party also used its “Israel is our misfortune” poster in “mainstream” social media campaigns calling for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv. Party leader Sascha Krolzig expressed appreciation for everyone who opposed “the Zionist aggressor” and subtly hinted that the BDS movement was just an imitation, whereas his party was “the anti-Israel original.”

I’ve long argued that if one had to summarize the message conveyed by BDS activism in one sentence, “The Jewish state is our misfortune” would get it just right. “Die Rechte” has come to the same conclusion.

Don’t think that the neo-Nazi party’s support for BDS is merely tactical lip-service. Yes, they’re neo-Nazis, and looking for outlets for Jew-hatred they can express in ways that won’t get them so easily in trouble for anti-Semitic incitement.

But “Die Rechte” clearly feels connected to the BDS movement. The party has linked to the German BDS website, and suggested an auction to benefit it, noting that BDS is dedicated to efforts “to isolate the Zionist aggressor state” politically, economically and culturally in defense of “the rights of the Palestinian people.”

And another crucial connection they feel is with BDS’ relentless efforts to fight against the widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Since the IHRA definition cites the demonization of Israel as an example of contemporary anti-Semitism, BDS supporters, including the UK’s Corbyn cult, oppose this definition just as bitterly as neo-Nazis, who want to promote the slogan “Israel is our misfortune.”

If your activism focuses laser-like on casting the world’s only Jewish state as the despicable “Jew of the nations” – an illegitimate and irredeemably racist “settler colonial” entity that is guilty of monstrous war crimes including “apartheid” and “genocide” – you can’t really feign surprise and disdain when old-fashioned Jew-haters hear tunes that sound pleasantly familiar to their ears.

The phenomenon of supposedly progressive “Israel critics” being hailed by the far-right is amply documented, whether it’s the celebrated Israel-hating academic Shlomo Sand attracting praise from a “diverse spectrum of anti-Semites,” or BDS rock star Roger Waters being featured on “The Daily Stormer,” under the helpfully explanatory headline: “Roger Waters Condems the Jews “ or other prominent BDS supporters winning endorsements from David Duke.

And it is by no means a one-way street: some BDS activists promote views that are hard to distinguish from material that is popular on far-right sites, while others don’t mind publishing on sites that feature blatantly anti-Semitic writings.

Moreover, as the endless revelations about anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party as well as other reporting shows, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and peddlers of assorted antisemitic conspiracy theories can be cherished members of “pro-Palestinian” pro-BDS Facebook groups. David Duke’s followers surely appreciate his fairly frequent “Free Palestine” tweets.

Given that there are by now not only countless articles but also several excellent books that document and analyze the anti-Semitism that is an inevitable part of BDS campaigns, it is almost pathetic that the critics of the recent German motion against BDS repeat well-worn claims that the movement only opposes Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and advocates for “justice” and legitimate Palestinian rights.

Apparently it doesn’t matter how often activists chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; it doesn’t matter how often they whitewash Palestinian terrorism, and how often they explain that “The ‘Occupation’ of #Palestine is not an entity that is separate from #Israel - it IS Israel. There is no israel that is not occupied, colonized, Palestinian land.”

It is hard to believe that those who are always eager to defend BDS as a legitimate “pro-Palestinian” movement are acting in good faith. As Cary Nelson shows in depressing detail in his new book “Israel Denial,” BDS supporters on campus have done a lot to promote blatant anti-Semitism and a polarized and poisoned discourse.

But when it comes to promoting peaceful co-existence and a negotiated two-state solution, BDS supporters will only show up to protest and disrupt. After all, as Nelson rightly emphasizes, “the BDS movement is about two things only: demonizing and punishing Israel. It is no accident that the terms that give it a name - boycott, divestment, and sanctions - are all punitive.”

If you really believe it is not anti-Semitic to demonize Israel, you presumably also agree with “Die Rechte” that there’s nothing wrong with the “Israel is our misfortune” poster. Indeed, replace the party’s name with a pro-BDS organization, and it could easily “pass” as as a reasonable, inoffensive pro-Palestine, pro-BDS messaging you might seat any protest or rally, despite so obviously echoing “Der Stürmer.”

You might also think it’s reasonable for “progressives” to keep daubing graffiti lauding the BDS movement on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto - equating Israel with the Nazis, and dishonoring and exploiting the Jews who died there.

As long as the academics who are so eager to shield BDS from well-deserved accusations of anti-Semitism are unable to quote even one leading BDS activist who campaigns for a negotiated two-state solution that would ensure peaceful co-existence by neutralizing Islamist terror groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who are dedicated to murdering Jews, they cannot claim to be serious about fighting anti-Semitism.

And the next time you hear a BDS supporter claiming they’re talking about Israel, it’s not about Jews, just think how the the same words would sound coming out of the mouth of a neo-Nazi. In a way, we should be grateful to the far right, from Detroit to Dortmund: they’ve stripped away the illusion that BDS can be dissociated from the most basic, grotesque tenets of anti-Semitism.



Director of Berlin’s museum resigns over Tweet endorsing antisemitic BDS
The Jerusalem Post first exposed the antisemitism scandal.
By Benjamin Weinthal
Jerusalem Post
June 16, 2019


The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum, Peter Schäfer, announced his resignation on Friday “to avoid further damage” a week after The Jerusalem Post first reported that the institution endorsed the BDS campaign on the museum’s Twitter feed.

The pressure for Schäfer’s removal rose over the past week, and experts in the field of antisemitism told the Post that they implored German Culture Minister Monika Grütters, who oversees the board of the museum foundation, to take action against Schäfer and the antisemitism scandals at the museum.

“All those responsible must help ensure that the Jewish Museum Berlin can again concentrate on its important work in terms of content,” Grütters said on Friday. Schäfer’s deputy, Martin Michaelis, will assume responsibility for running the museum until a successor can be hired.

B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman, who sent a letter last week to Schäfer about the museum’s anti-Israel direction, told the Post on Friday: “What’s crucial now is for the museum to identify leadership that commits to professionalism and the truth of sharing the long and rich Jewish life of Germany. This museum must earn the name Jewish Museum and, in doing so, earn the trust of the country, Europe and all visitors from around the world. It must not immerse itself in politicizing history, stooping to propaganda and, worse, revisionism.”

British journalist Tom Gross was invited to tour the museum by Schäfer’s office last year and expressed his dismay afterwards at some of the anti-Israel political aspects he saw.

“The important thing now, since the museum is currently replacing its permanent exhibit, due to reopen next year, is to make sure Schäfer’s replacement is someone who is more interested in remembering the enormous contributions of Berlin’s Jews to German and world history, and in accurately explaining the sheer sadistic horrors of the Holocaust, rather than engage in anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, extreme left-wing posturing,” Gross told the Post.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin, spokeswoman for the museum, was summarily dismissed, according to a Munich-based media outlet. The paper reported that she had written the anti-Israel tweet.

The Post asked Schmidt-Narischkin numerous times last week for a comment, but she declined to respond. The museum is widely considered a hot-bed of anti-Israel resentments.

“Enough is enough,” said Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany. “The Jewish Museum Berlin seems to be completely out of control. Under these circumstances, one has to think about whether the term ‘Jewish’ is still appropriate.” His comments came after the museum tweeted an article from a left-wing Berlin-based paper, calling on the Bundestag to reverse its anti-BDS resolution, which classified BDS as antisemitism.

The council added that the museum’s management “has lost the trust of the Jewish community in Germany.”

Schuster said on Friday that Schäfer’s decision to toss in the towel was “an important step.”

Schäfer has been facing criticism over the years for promoting a one-sided exhibit on Jerusalem that plays down the role of Jews in the city, according to critics. In March, Schäfer invited the antisemitic Iranian regime diplomat Seyed Ali Moujani to the museum. Ali Moujani used the meeting to promote the view that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. Schäfer regretted the interaction last week but in March he welcomed the anti-Israel tirade against the Jewish state.

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, first coined the phrase the “anti-Jewish Museum” in 2012 in connection with the institution hosting the pro-BDS academic Judith Butler.

She promoted BDS at the museum in 2012, after having expressed support for the terrorist entities Hezbollah and Hamas in 2006.

“Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important,” said Butler at the time.



Director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum Quits After Spat Over B.D.S.
By Melissa Eddy
The New York Times
June 15, 2019

BERLIN — The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quit his post on Friday amid criticism that he had become too politically involved in the battle over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which was recently designated as anti-Semitic by the German Parliament.

Pressure had been mounting against the director, Peter Schäfer, over what critics said was an inappropriately political stance for the head of a cultural institution tasked with explaining Jewish traditions, history and art. An exhibition that opened last year about Jerusalem was accused of being anti-Israeli in a prominent, unsigned letter, criticism that Israeli officials said they agreed with at the time.

And Mr. Schäfer himself was criticized last year for inviting a Palestinian scholar to give a lecture at the museum and giving a personal tour to the cultural director of the Iranian Embassy.

But it was a post by the museum’s Twitter account last week that sparked the backlash that Mr. Schäfer could no longer withstand. The post promoted an article from a German daily that cited an open letter signed by 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars. In the letter, which was issued before Parliament acted, the scholars urged lawmakers not to sign the resolution declaring the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as B.D.S., anti-Semitic.

The resolution “does not assist this fight,” the scholars said. “On the contrary, it undermines it.”

The B.D.S. movement seeks to put economic and political pressure on Israel. It is especially sensitive in Germany, where responsibility for Israel’s right to exist is a cornerstone of foreign policy, and where calls to boycott the Jewish state carry historical associations with the Nazis.

The museum sought to defend the Twitter post, saying that it was only trying to point out the scholars’ argument that the resolution in Parliament would not help in the fight against anti-Semitism. But the post proved the last straw.

“Enough is enough. The Jewish Museum appears to be completely out of control,” the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, wrote in a response published on Tuesday. He went on to question whether it was still “appropriate” to call the museum “Jewish,” and said the council no longer trusted the institution.

In his resignation announcement, Mr. Schäfer said he had decided to quit immediately “to prevent further damage to the museum.” The museum opened in 2001 with the mission to reflect Jewish life and culture, as well as diversity and the diaspora in Germany. It is in the process of developing a new permanent exhibition, as well as a children’s museum, both of which were started under Mr. Schäfer’s direction.

Germany’s culture minister, Monika Grütters, who heads the board of the museum foundation, said she had accepted the resignation of Mr. Schäfer, who took over the position in 2014. Mr. Schäfer’s deputy, Martin Michaelis, will run the museum until a new director can be found, she said.

“All those responsible must ensure that the Jewish Museum of Berlin can return to concentrating on its important work,” she said.

Mr. Schuster, of the Central Council of Jews, said in a statement that he welcomed Mr. Schäfer’s decision to resign, calling it “an important step.”

Cultural institutions have recently become a battlefield for the fight over the B.D.S. movement in Germany. Last summer, the Ruhrtriennale, an international arts festival in western Germany, rescinded an invitation to a Scottish rap group after pressure mounted surrounding the artists’ association with the B.D.S. movement.

Anti-Semitic crimes and hate crimes against Jews have been on the rise in Germany, with crime statistics released last year showing they had increased by almost 20 percent last year compared with 2017.


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.