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Hebrew University
German-Israeli Textbook Commission and HUJ Moshe Zimmermann - Questionable Appointment


Professor Moshe Zimmermann

Director of the Koebner Center Hebrew U

E-mail: mszimm@pluto.mscc.huji.ac.il

Editorial Note:

The Georg Eckert Institute in Germany and the Mofet Institute in Tel Aviv have created a German-Israeli Textbook Commission to study Israeli and German textbooks. The commission is funded by the German Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Ministry of Education. This is certainly a commendable project, but the appointment of Professor Moshe Zimmermann (HUJ) is troubling.  

Zimmermann has a long history of fairly outrageous commentary that could be construed as comparing the behavior of the IDF to that of elements in Nazi Germany.    In fact, at one point, Zimmermann was reprimanded by the Anti-Defamation League for engaging in anti-Semitic sloganeering. He has been involved in a number of law suits trying to prove that he was misquoted.  But in one ruling in 2004 Judge Yehudit Shevach of the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv accepted the argument by journalist Anat Peri and Haaretz "that Zimmermann did compare, on various occasions Israelis to the Nazis. Between Hebron youth to the Hitler Jugend; Between the motivation and social benefits of Israeli soldiers in IDF elite units to those enjoyed by the Waffen-SS; Between racist expressions of Israeli soccer fans to those of the Third Reich; And the Bible to Mein Kampf." The Judge also said that Peri's assumption that Zimmermann was paid by German foundations due to those views he expressed, is  entirely reasonable given the overall pattern of his conduct.  It bears noting that there are circles in Germany that welcome the comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. 

Losing the lawsuit against Anat Peri did not cure Zimmermann from his habits, last year he hinted again that Israel's treatment of illegal immigrants is reminiscent to how Nazi Germany deported East European Jews in 1938.

According to the European Union Monitoring Center's (EUMC) Working Definition of anti-Semitism, "nazification of Israel" (comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany) is a form of anti-Semitism. Since the Working Definition was adopted, the European Union has made considerable progress in rooting out such anti-Semitic expressions from the public arena.

The appointment of Zimmermann raises a question of judgment on the part of the Commission. The fact that Zimmermann is Jewish and Israeli does not make his writing less anti-Semitic according to the EUMC's Working Definition of anti-Semitism.



Posted in Members: Associated - Georg Eckert Institute

08 January 2013

The conference "Translating Differences. On the (Mis)Understanding of Concepts in the German-Israeli Discourse" took place at the Foreign Office Berlin, Germany from December 3 to 4 2012. Together, renowned scholars from both countries, among them Prof Dr Simone Lässig, Prof Dr Dan Diner and Prof Dr Moshe Zimmermann examined the risks, possibilities and chances of the intercultural dialogue.

Misunderstandings are not just the fault of language translation; they derive from the specific historical and political contexts of both countries. Therefore, certain concepts cannot be easily translated into the cultural and political language of the other country. For this reason the scholars investigated each term and concepts' meaning in Germany and Israel, while taking into consideration the circumstances, processes and protagonists of "cultural translations". They also discussed the possibilities and limits of transferring this to a German-Israeli conversation.

The conference began with a presentation of the first results of the textbook analyses which have been conducted under the aegis of the German Israeli Textbook Commission since 2010. The focus was the depiction of the other country in German and Israeli history, geography and social sciences school textbooks.



Translated from German by Google


12/04/2012: "UNDERSTANDING SHOULD BE ALWAYS NEW DEVELOPMENT"

On 3 and 4 December was the first conference of the German-Israeli Textbook Commission held in Europe Hall of the Foreign Office. Under the title of "Translating Differences the (mis) understanding of concepts in the German-Israeli discourse" renowned scientists from both countries - including Prof. Simone Casual, Prof. Dan Diner, Prof. Alfons Kenkmann and Prof. Moshe Zimmermann - explored risks and opportunities in the common dialogue. At the meeting, initiated by the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig, the first results of the mutual textbook representations were presented.

"Communication has to be earned again and again," says Professor Lässig, director of the Georg Eckert Institute. German and Israelis speak apparently the same "language". Often it shows in talking about concepts such as "nation", "democracy", "citizenship" or "integration" irritating obstacles arising from the peculiarities of the two countries. The task of science is there, forcing us to think about it. Overlooking at processes and actors in 'cultural translation', German and Israeli scientists questioned the respective importance of the concepts in the two countries. They also explored the possibilities and limits of its applicability in the German-Israeli dialogue.

Dan Diner, director of the Simon Dubnow Institute in Leipzig discussed in his presentation the legitimacy of the discourses on the Holocaust, where Israel plays a central role in the Western world. With globalization, other memories come to the view, with the decline of the witnesses, the memory of the Holocaust transits. He also warned against overlooking the current events in the Middle East balance and compromised: "The truth is not in the middle. However, we do well to let them lie there."

The German-Israeli Textbook Commission

The reason for the meeting was the work of the "German-Israeli Textbook Commission". To explore current textbook illustrations, the two governments had called in 2010 for the German-Israeli Textbook Commission into being. It has since been coordinated by the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig. The Commission examines historians, geographers, political scientists and educators, the German-Israel image as well as depictions of Jewish history and the Holocaust. Textbooks from five German states and the Israeli textbooks are examined. Final results will be available in 2015. However, things are already clear that most German textbooks have a balanced representation endeavor, especially in the upper secondary level, when dealing with images, but there is improvement needed as some has distortions.

The program is available at: http://www.gei.de/disbk-konferenz

The Commission, which coordinated by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig, and the Tel Aviv "Mofet" scientific institute is funded by the German Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Ministry of Education. The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research analyzed educational media from cultural studies, historical and social science perspective. In addition, it advises (inter-) national educators and support scientists with its infrastructure and the internationally unique research library. The CFI is a member of the Leibniz Association.

Contact:
Regina Peper
Secretary for Press and Public Relations
Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research
Celler Straße 3
38114 Braunschweig
Tel: 0531-59099-54 or
Email: peper@gei.de





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