German Court Rules on 'Kosher Anti-Semitism'
BERLIN - A German court of appeals in Frankfurt earlier this month affirmed the claim of prominent German Jewish journalist Henryk M. Broder that Jewish self-hatred and Jewish anti-Semitism indeed exist.
It was the first legal verdict in the history of the German judiciary in which a court recognized the phenomenon of Jews relying on anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist statements and material to rage against Jews and Israel.
"The decision is
fair," Broder told The Jewish Press. He noted that there are "nurses
who kill their patients, attorneys who commit insurance fraud. Why can
there not therefore be Jews who are anti-Semites?
Rosenfeld's 2006 study, which has been translated into German, makes the case that the fiery anti-Israel books and statements of a growing number of North American Jews are contributing to a new form of anti-Semitism.
European Jews who argue for the dissolution of Israel or disseminate a radical anti-Zionist outlook have long been the target of Broder's criticism. He coined the phrase "kosher anti-Semitism" to describe the phenomenon. That many publishing houses, newspapers, and universities are amenable to a small group of Jewish writers and academics who camouflage their ambivalence or even hatred of Jewry with a vicious critique of Israel is, he said, a run-of-the mill occurrence in Germany, especially among left-liberal newspapers like die taz and the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
To most Germans, the idea of a Jewish anti-Semite seems to be an unfathomable concept, and this is precisely what Broder is attempting to debunk in both the legal and journalistic arenas.
In 2005, Broder, known for his sharp polemical skills and wry humor, wrote a blog article "Holo with Hajo: How two Jews did the Adolf in Leipzig," satirizing publisher Abraham Melzer and author Hajo Meyer. The comparison to Hitler prompted Melzer and Meyer to file a lawsuit asserting libel and thereby deny Broder his free speech protections.
Meyer's book The End of Jewry, which Melzer published, triggered Broder's jibe against the two men. The book propagates the thesis that the "earliest cause for anti-Semitism is situated in Jewry." Meyer, who survived Auschwitz, plays down the significance of the Holocaust ("a vagary of history") and routinely compares Israel to Nazi Germany, equating Israeli border control checkpoints with the Nazi SS.
In addition to the Adolf comment, Meyer and Melzer sought legal relief against two other Broder characterizations. He said both men are "experts on applied Judeophobia" and ridiculed the publisher Melzer for "discovering a gap that he diligently filled with brown filth."
A regional court in Frankfurt declared Broder's Hitler mockery to be protected speech but prohibited him from writing that Melzer and Meyer are professional Jew haters, from impugning them with the charge of Jewish anti-Semitism, and from repeating the "brown filth" criticism.
Broder appealed the decision and publicly embarrassed the lower court with his acid-laced rebuke..
"A bad odor remains in that the inheritors of the firm Freisler decide what is anti-Semitic and what is not," he said, referring to Roland Freisler, the chief Nazi judge of the "people's court" during the Nazi era.
At the appeal hearing, Judge Maruhn ruled that the designation "experts in applied Jewphobia" is a legally permissible critique of both plaintiffs, as is Broder's "Adolf in Leipzig" description.
His barb about Melzer's publishing house relying on brown filth to earn profits was ruled unprotected speech because "the color brown creates an association with National Socialism," according to Judge Maruhn, and could lead to the belief that Melzer publishes Nazi literature.
Broder's attorney, Jan Hegemann, told The Jewish Press, "I judge the decision positively. The court recognized that the formulation 'expert in applied Judeophobia' is a permissible expression of opinion. At the oral hearing, the judges made it clear that they were aware of the intense debate about Jewish anti-Semitism.
"That the accusation affects Dr. Meyer, a Holocaust survivor, gives the case a certain tragic air, but there could not have been any other decision. Henryk Broder is allowed to say that he considers Meyers's theses anti-Semitic and can formulate it this way."