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General Articles
Academics' Latest Trend: The Right to Call for BDS


 
21.07.2020
Editorial Note
 
A group of Jewish pro-Palestinian academics, among them Israelis, have recently targeted Dr. Felix Klein, the Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, since May 2018, urging him to resign.    

 

Already in April, the group sent a letter asking the German Interior Minister to replace Klein.  They complained that Klein had described philosopher Achille Mbembe's writings as anti-Semitic. To recall, IAM also found some of Mbembe’s writing to be antisemitic.

 

In the current assault on Klein, the group accused Klein of stating: “it is precisely the anti-Semitism from the left-liberal milieu that has made life, also for me personally, quite a bit harder in the last few weeks. But even if right-wing narratives currently have a higher potential for violence, we must not underestimate this area.” The group members objected to his assertion that the Liberal Left is accused of anti-Semitism.  They found it offensive and wrote him: "You fail to distinguish between legitimate criticism and real anti-Semitism." According to them, it is "the acute danger that Jews in Germany face due to the surge in far-right anti-Semitism," and not the left.   

 

However, a new report by the German Government Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has found that the number of criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism has jumped up nearly 40 percent between 2018 and 2019.  The BfV recorded 6,449 criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism in 2019, up from 4,622 in 2018.  Just over 900 of these crimes were considered violent. Islamic terrorism also remains a significant threat, the report found. The danger to Jews comes from both the left and right.

 

On the same day the letter was sent to Klein, an anonymous abusive post has targeted Klein, who reported this to the police. 

 

The group found BDS to be a legitimate tool of criticism of Israel and, not surprisingly, attack those who work against BDS. They chastised Klein, "You have been a driving force behind attempts to undermine free speech by categorically defining and disqualifying the BDS Movement, which has a minuscule footprint in Germany, as antisemitic."

 
The group ended their letter with a plea, "We are calling on you to resign," followed by the list of professors, including, but not limited to:
 
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Seth Anziska, University College London; Prof. Louise Bethlehem, The Hebrew University; Prof. Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Raya Cohen, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Alon Confino, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Prof. (emerita) Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emeritus) Gideon Freudenthal, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Amos Goldberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Neve Gordon, Queen Mary University of London; Prof. David Harel, The Weizmann Institute of Science; Prof. (emeritus) Yehuda Judd Ne’eman, Tel Aviv University; Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University; Prof. (emeritus) Paul Mendes-Flohr, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Isaac Nevo, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Prof. (emeritus) Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emerita) Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Catherine Rottenberg, University of Nottingham; Prof. David Shulman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. (emeritus) Moshe Zuckermann, Tel Aviv University; among others.
 
Clearly, some of these scholars are leading BDS activists, others are well-known delegitimizers of Israel, and the rest are known radical-political activists.
 
Palestinian activists have avidly followed the campaign against Klein.  The original letter in German was published by the Palästinakomitee Stuttgart alone, and the letter in English was published only by the Electronic Intifada and Institut für Palästinakunde e.V., which raises a question of possible connection.
 
The German police are yet to discover who is behind the abusive post sent to Klein.  
 

Supporting the right to call for BDS against Israel is illegitimate as BDS. Given that BDS is illegal in Israel, the presence of so many Israeli academics among the signatories is concerning.  The Israeli taxpayers pay their salaries.

 

 





German antisemitism Officer receives abusive post
 July 11, 2020   Germany
 

Berlin - The Federal Government's antiaemitism Commissioner Felix Klein has received a letter of agitation for the first time. Klein has been in office since May 2018. According to SPIEGEL information, the letter that he received on June 30 is like a threatening letter that unknown persons sent to the synagogue community in Halle an der Saale in May.

The letter addressed to the antisemitism officer is likely to be directly related to Klein's efforts against racism and antisemitism. "It is precisely the challenges of the corona pandemic that fuel many crude conspiracy myths, which Mr Klein has spoken about several times in the media," his office said. After a "security-related assessment" of the letter, a criminal complaint was filed.

Source: spiegel.  



=======================================



Mr. Felix Klein
Federal government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and
the Fight against Antisemitism
Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community
Alt-Moabit 140
10557 Berlin
Germany
Copied:
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of the Interior
Franziska Giffey, Federal Minister for Family Affairs
Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
Concerns: your statement regarding “antisemitism from the left-liberal milieu”
10 July 2020
Dear Mr. Klein,
We are Jewish scholars and artists from Israel and elsewhere, many of whom specialize in
anti-Semitism and in Jewish, Holocaust and Israel Studies. On April 30, we wrote to German
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and called for your replacement as the Federal government
Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism. We did so
following your shameful attack on Prof. Achille Mbembe, one of the most important
intellectuals in Africa and globally.
A statement has now been brought to our attention, which you made on June 30. In the
presence of Franziska Giffey, the German Minister for Family Affairs, you said: “We all
know, perhaps, ladies and gentlemen, that it is precisely the antisemitism from the left-liberal
milieu that has made life, also for me personally, quite a bit harder in the last few weeks. But
even if right-wing narratives currently have a higher potential for violence, we must not
underestimate this area.”
We strongly object. No “left-liberal anti-Semites” are bullying you, but Jews and non-Jews
who are protesting the way in which you are weaponizing the fight against antisemitism, at
the expense of free speech and basic civil rights – and the fight against antisemitism itself.
Holding you accountable for statements and actions in your official capacity, Mr. Klein, is not
antisemitism. It’s the essence of democracy.
Your statement quoted above is deeply offensive. You basically called us and many others
criticising you in a legitimate way anti-Semites. We demand an apology for that. It also
testifies to your distorted understanding of the acute danger that Jews in Germany face due to
the surge in far-right antisemitism. Without hesitation, you compare “left-liberal” critiques to
right-wing violence and insist that the former not be underestimated.
While you do so, we observe a method you have been using before: stigmatizing and
incriminating critics through undefined and unsubstantiated allegations. Instead of supporting
your charges with concrete and credible information relating to the intent and behaviour of
specific individuals, you make do with generalizations such as “anti-Semitism from the left-
liberal milieu”. Aside from us feeling implicated: who are you pointing at? On what grounds?
We consider such a reliance on vague but highly toxic insinuations problematic and
detrimental in itself, but even more so when used and amplified by a senior official appointed
by the German government to fight antisemitism.
In a recent article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Journalist and Jurist Stephan Detjen
wrote: “Restrictions of freedom of opinion, when motivated by allegations of proximity to
BDS, require a clear legal basis and are subject to an examination scheme developed by the
Federal Constitutional Court.”
You have been a driving force behind attempts to undermine free speech by categorically
defining and disqualifying the BDS Movement, which has a minuscule footprint in Germany,
as antisemitic. However, in its judgement on June 11, the European Court of Human Rights
confirmed and clarified that activism in the context of BDS is protected by freedom of
expression.
As we have stressed before, our views about BDS differ. But all of us were hoping this ruling
would motivate you to shift your attention to the real dangers posed by antisemitism in
Germany. As we were hoping the extensive criticism directed at you following your attack on
Prof. Mbembe would induce you to stop launching baseless and undefined accusations.
However, your latest statement about “anti-Semitism from the left-liberal milieu” made clear
our hope was unfounded.
You display a lack of awareness and respect for democratic values. You fail to distinguish
between legitimate criticism and real antisemitism. As the Israeli government is moving
towards formal annexation of parts of the West Bank and the need for loud international
criticism and opposition is only growing, you keep chilling the public and political debate in
Germany and beyond.
In his aforementioned article, Stephan Detjen emphasizes that the Federal government
Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Antisemitism carries “a
sharp sword” – for good reasons. Yet again, you have demonstrated you do not know how to
use this sword.
We are calling on you to resign.
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Department of History, Tel Aviv University; Associate Fellow at
Re:Work: International Research Center Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History at
Humboldt University, Berlin
Dr. Seth Anziska, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London
Prof. Louise Bethlehem, Department of English and the Program in Cultural Studies, The
Hebrew University of Jerusalem; recipient European Research Council Consolidators Grant
Prof. Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, University of California,
Berkeley; Fellow American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Von Humboldt Senior Laureate
Prof. (emerita) Jane Caplan, Professor of Modern European History, University of Oxford;
Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford
Dr. Raya Cohen, formerly Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University; formerly
Department of Sociology, University of Naples Federico II
Prof. Jean Comaroff, Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American
Studies and of Anthropology; Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies, Harvard
University
Prof. John Comaroff, Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies
and of Anthropology; Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies, Harvard University
Prof. Alon Confino, Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Departments of History and
of Jewish and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; recipient of the
Humboldt-Stiftung and of the Guggenheim Fellowships
Prof. (emerita) Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Department of General and Comparative Literature,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship
Prof. (emeritus) Gideon Freudenthal, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of
Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Katharina Galor, Hirschfeld Visiting Associate Professor, Program in Judaic Studies,
Brown University
Prof. Amos Goldberg, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
Prof. Neve Gordon, School of Law, Marie Curie Fellow, Queen Mary University of London
Dr. Ilana Hammerman, Writer, recipient of the Yeshayahu Leibowitz Prize
Prof. David Harel, Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, The
Weizmann Institute of Science; recipient of the Israel Prize and of the EMET Prize
Dani Karavan, Sculptor, projects include the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of
National Socialism in Berlin, the Regensburg Synagogue Memorial and the Way of Human
Rights in Nuremberg; recipient of the Israel Prize
Miki Kratsman, Photographer; former head of the Photography Department at Bezalel
Academy of Arts and Design; recipient of the EMET Prize
Alex Levac, Photographer, recipient of the Israel Prize
Prof. (emeritus) Yehuda Judd Ne’eman, Tel Aviv University, recipient of the Israel Prize
Dr. (emeritus) Mark Levene, Department of History, University of Southampton UK;
Parkes Centre for Jewish/non-Jewish Relations; recipient of the Lemkin Prize of the Institute
for the Study of Genocide
Prof. Neil Levi, English Department (chair), Drew University
Dr. Anat Matar, Department of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University
Prof. (emeritus) Paul Mendes-Flohr, Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor Emeritus of Modern
Jewish History and Thought and Associate Faculty in the Department of History, The
University of Chicago Divinity School; Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
Prof. Isaac Nevo, Department of Philosophy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Prof. (emeritus) Adi Ophir, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science
and Ideas, Tel Aviv University; Visiting Professor of the Humanities, The Cogut Institute for
the Humanities and the Center for Middle East Studies, Brown University
Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, School of Education, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; The
David Yellin Academic College of Education; co-recipient of the Sakharov Prize
Prof. (emerita) Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Departments of English Literature and
Comparative Literature, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; member of the Israel Academy
of Sciences and Humanities
Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Head of the Talmud and Late Antiquity section, The Department of
Jewish Philosophy and Talmud, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Michael Rothberg, 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies,
Department of Comparative Literature, University of California
Prof. Catherine Rottenberg, Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of
Nottingham
Prof. David Shulman, Department of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, recipient of the Israel Prize and
of the EMET Prize
Prof. Barry Trachtenberg, Michael R. and Deborah K. Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish
History, Department of History, Wake Forest University
Prof. (emeritus) Moshe Zuckermann, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of
Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University


==================================== 

 

German anti-Semitism chief must resign, say Jewish and Israeli scholars

 

Ali Abunimah Lobby Watch 13 July 2020


Almost three dozen prominent Jewish and Israeli scholars are calling for the resignation of Germany’s top official responsible for combating anti-Semitism.

The latest demand for the removal of Felix Klein comes following his claim at an event on 30 June that “anti-Semitism from the left-liberal milieu” had been “making life a bit harder for me personally.”

Klein went on to say that “even if right-wing narratives currently have a higher potential for violence, we must not underestimate this area.”

The scholars reject this entirely: “No ‘left-liberal anti-Semites’ are bullying you, but Jews and non-Jews are protesting the way in which you are weaponizing the fight against anti-Semitism at the expense of free speech and basic civil rights – and the fight against anti-Semitism itself.”

The signers include Dani Karavan, Alex Levac, Yehuda Judd Ne’eman and David Shulman – all winners of the Israel Prize, the state’s highest official cultural honor.

They also include Harvard University’s Jean Comaroff, writer and Yeshayahu Leibowitz Prize winner Ilana Hammerman, and Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Among the signers are Mark Levene, retired professor at the University of Southampton and winner of the Lemkin Prize of the Institute for the Study of Genocide; Michael Rothberg, chair in Holocaust studies at the University of California; and Barry Trachtenberg, chair of Jewish history at Wake Forest University.

The scholars call Klein’s latest declaration “deeply offensive.”

“You basically called us and many others criticizing you in a legitimate way anti-Semites,” they write. “We demand an apology for that.”

They also accuse Klein of minimizing the “acute danger that Jews in Germany face due to the surge in far-right anti-Semitism.”

Smears against Achille Mbembe

Klein already faced calls for his sacking earlier this year following what the scholars term his “shameful attack on Professor Achille Mbembe, one of the most important intellectuals in Africa and globally.”

In response to Klein’s smear campaign against Mbembe, hundreds of scholars pledged not to cooperate with institutions in Germany that censor advocates of Palestinian rights.

Many of the scholars now urging Klein to resign wrote to Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer following the Mbembe episode, urging him to fire Klein.

Despite the backlash, Klein refused to apologize for his false accusations of anti-Semitism against Mbembe.

Asked to justify those attacks, Klein made it crystal clear to the German newspaper Die Zeit in May that his motivation for smearing Mbembe was to shield Israel from accountability and criticism.

Klein claimed that Mbembe’s essay “The Society of Enmity” contained “all the features of Israel-focused anti-Semitism.”

According to Klein, this included that “Israel is demonized, a double standard is established, and the legitimacy of the country as a whole is called into question.”

In fact, the essay contains detailed and factually accurate descriptions of the systems of control and segregation Israel imposes on Palestinians, including walls, checkpoints, fences and watchtowers.

Klein also cited how Mbembe wrote the foreward to the 2015 book Apartheid Israel “in which he argued that Israel is worse than the apartheid regime of South Africa.”

Klein also complained that proceeds from the book “went to a BDS group” – a reference to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

The volume, published by Haymarket Books, is a thought-provoking and carefully considered collection of essays by 18 scholars of Africa – who can hardly be accused of making light of the term apartheid.

Comparisons of Israel’s system to the crime of apartheid as it was perpetrated in South Africa have been common for years – because they are accurate – and have been advanced not least by former Israeli prime ministers including Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak.

In his own defense, in an interview published in April, Mbembe has gone as far as to declare that “It would never occur to me to contest Israel’s right to exist” and to insist that “I have no relationship whatsoever with BDS.”

Klein, therefore, not only seeks to silence those who oppose Israel’s claimed “right to exist” as a racist Jewish state, but even those – like Mbembe – who don’t.

But facts are not important to pro-Israel zealots like Klein who are determined to smear any and all criticism of Israel as akin to anti-Jewish bigotry.

“For me, the matter is unfortunately clear-cut,” Klein asserted regarding Mbembe’s work. “And I am surprised that there are readers of this composition who apparently ignore that.”

“Driving force”

Indeed the matter is clear-cut, but not in the way Klein thinks: What is evident is that all the examples of alleged anti-Semitism he produced against Mbembe amount to criticism of Israel’s brutal system of military occupation, settler-colonialism and violent ethno-religious segregation.

The signers of the letter calling on him to resign call Klein a “driving force behind attempts to undermine free speech by categorically disqualifying the BDS movement, which has a minuscule footprint in Germany, as anti-Semitic.”

They note that this logic was rejected in a landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last month, which confirmed that Israel boycott activism is protected political free speech.

“You display a lack of awareness and respect for democratic values,” the scholars charge Klein. “You fail to distinguish between legitimate criticism and real anti-Semitism.”

As Israel moves towards annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank, the scholars say that “the need for loud international criticism and opposition is only growing,” but Klein keeps “chilling the public and political debate in Germany and beyond.”

 

Klein is one of several high-profile anti-Semitism officials appointed by European governments and the US who have used their positions as a cover to advance Israel’s campaign to muzzle supporters of Palestinian rights.

Prominent among them is Katharina von Schnurbein, a German functionary who leads the European Union’s effort to spread smears and lies against the BDS movement.

==========================================================


Mr. Horst Seehofer

Minister of the Interior, Building and Community
Alt-Moabit 140
10557 Berlin
Germany
Copied:
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Concerns: Call to replace Felix Klein as the Federal government Commissioner for the
Fight against Antisemitism
30 April 2020
Dear Minister Seehofer,
We, Jewish scholars and artists from Israel and elsewhere, many of whom specialize in anti-
Semitism and in Jewish, Holocaust and Israel Studies, are calling on you to replace Felix Klein,
the Federal government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against
Antisemitism, following his shameful attack on Prof. Achille Mbembe.
As you know, Prof. Achille Mbembe is one of the most important intellectuals in Africa, whose
humanistic voice and scholarship is heard and admired globally. We consider Mr. Klein’s attempt
to frame Prof. Mbembe as an antisemite baseless, inappropriate, offensive and harmful.
We are aware that the attack on Prof. Mbembe was initiated by others, who rejected him as the
opening speaker of this year’s Ruhrtriennale Festival. Given his official role and responsibility, we
find it unacceptable that Mr. Klein joined this attack, which degraded into a witch-hunt.
We are perplexed that Mr. Klein did so without bothering to study Prof. Mbembe’s work. Instead,
he relied for his allegations on a deeply selective reading and manipulative interpretation of Prof.
Mbembe’s writings by others. Considering that accusations of antisemitism can ruin someone’s
reputation, this in itself amounts to severe professional and moral misconduct.
The Ruhrtriennale Festival has been cancelled by now, due to the coronavirus. This incident,
however, cannot remain without consequences for Mr. Klein. Apart from the personal and
professional harm done to Prof. Mbembe, Mr. Klein has done a disservice to the urgent fight
against real antisemitism, casting a shadow over the integrity of his public office.
By accusing Prof. Mbembe of “relativizing the Holocaust”, Mr. Klein has also harmed academic
freedom. This toxic allegation relates to Prof. Mbembe’s study in reference to the Holocaust in
comparative context. We wish to be very clear: such study isn’t a trivialization of the Holocaust
and certainly not antisemitism. It is legitimate, essential and in fact commonplace in Holocaust and
genocide studies. Some 600 leading Holocaust scholars recently asserted that banning analogies
from the debate about the Holocaust is “a radical position that is far removed from mainstream
scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide. And it makes learning from the past almost
impossible”.
Mr. Klein’s attack on Prof. Mbembe fits into a pattern. He has assumed a leading role in the
“weaponization” of antisemitism against critics of the Israeli government and activists exercising
their freedom of speech and assembly to protest Israel’s violations of basic rights of the
Palestinians. As an official representative of the German government, Mr. Klein is undermining
the exercise of fundamental freedoms – this should deeply alarm your government, considering its
commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.
Unjustified allegations of antisemitism are increasingly creating a climate of fear in Germany,
deterring intellectuals, journalists and the public at large from exercising free speech regarding
controversial issues that should be publicly debated. At this very hour, free and critical speech in
relation to Israel is needed more than ever. While the world is desperately fighting the coronavirus,
the incoming Israeli government is moving towards annexation of vital parts of the occupied
Palestinian West Bank – a grave violation of international law, formalizing a situation of two
peoples with unequal rights inside one territory.
56 former members of the Knesset, some of whom have served as ministers in various Israeli
governments, have recently warned this would establish an Apartheid state in Israel-Palestine.
Does Mr. Klein consider them antisemites? And all others who will speak of inequality and
discrimination, after annexation has been implemented? These questions arise after Mr. Klein has
accused Prof. Mbembe of antisemitism for allegedly equating Israel with Apartheid South Africa.
In addition, Mr. Klein has promoted and amplified aggressive campaigns against organizations and
individuals, some of them Jewish, due to their support for “BDS”. He is clearly obsessed by the
BDS campaign, which has a miniscule footprint in Germany, and appears to devote more of his
time to it than to the acute threat that the surge in far-right antisemitism poses to Jews and Jewish
life in Germany.
Our views on BDS differ, but it is entirely clear: BDS as such is not antisemitic and is essentially
protected by freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as also confirmed by several German
courts. It is deplorable but unsurprising that the Israeli government is waging war against BDS –
but how can a German government official join this war in the frontline?
In this context, we wish to add that this anti-BDS crusade is undeniably contributing to the
marginalization of non-white voices and minorities in Germany, fostering racism and nationalistic
sentiments. It is a shame that none other than the Federal Commissioner for the Fight against
Antisemitism is leading this trend.
We also deplore that Mr. Klein has been encouraging politicized abuse of the IHRA definition,
which conflates antisemitism with criticism and activism directed at Israel, to discredit and silence
opponents of Israel’s policies. Here again, we observe Mr. Klein operating in synergy with the
Israeli government.
That same Israeli government is currently preparing for annexation of vital parts of Palestine. It
has deliberately weaponized allegations of antisemitism to politically shield this dramatic step and
to distract from the documented evidence about its systematic violations of the human rights of the
Palestinians.
On numerous occasions since his appointment in May 2018, Mr. Klein has facilitated and
legitimized this fatal instrumentalization, which – we wish to repeat – harms the fight against real
anti-Semitism. The latest example is his attack on Prof. Mbembe.
For all these reasons, we consider Mr. Klein unqualified and unfit for the important task assigned
to him. He is a civil servant that operates and falls under your political responsibility. We call on
you to replace Mr. Klein without delay as the German government Commissioner for Jewish
Life and the Fight against Antisemitism.
Yours sincerely,
Prof. Gadi Algazi, Department of History, Tel Aviv University; Associate Fellow at Re:Work:
International Research Center Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History at Humboldt
University, Berlin
Dr. Seth Anziska, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London
Prof. Louise Bethlehem, Department of English and the Program in Cultural Studies, The
Hebrew University of Jerusalem; recipient European Research Council Consolidators Grant
Prof. Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, University of California,
Berkeley; Fellow American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Von Humboldt Senior Laureate
Prof. (emeritus) Jose Brunner, Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and
Ideas (former director) and Buchmann Faculty of Law; co-founder of Israel’s first legal clinic for
the rights of Holocaust survivors, Tel Aviv University
Prof. (emerita) Jane Caplan, History Department, University of Oxford; Emeritus Fellow, St.
Antony’s College, Oxford; Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor Emeritus of European History,
Bryn Mawr College; Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr. Raya Cohen, formerly Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University; formerly
Department of Sociology, University of Naples Federico II
Prof. Jean Comaroff, Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American
Studies and of Anthropology; Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies, Harvard
University
Prof. John Comaroff, Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of
Anthropology; Oppenheimer Research Fellow in African Studies, Harvard University
Prof. Alon Confino, Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, Director of The Institute for
Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, Department of History and of Jewish and Near Eastern
Studies, University of Massachusetts; recipient of the Humboldt-Stiftung and of the Guggenheim
Fellowships
Prof. (emerita) Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Department of General and Comparative Literature, The
Hebrew University of Jerusalem; recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship
Prof. (emeritus) Gideon Freudenthal, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of
Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University
Dr. Katharina Galor, Hirschfeld Visiting Associate Professor, Program in Judaic Studies, Brown
University
Prof. Amos Goldberg, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
Prof. Neve Gordon, School of Law, Marie Curie Fellow, Queen Mary University of London
Dr. Ilana Hammerman, Writer, recipient of the Yeshayahu Leibowitz Prize
Prof. David Harel, Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, The Weizmann
Institute of Science; recipient of the Israel Prize and of the EMET Prize
Prof. Eva Illouz, The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem; The European Centre for Sociology and Political Science, Paris; recipient of the
Anneliese Meier International Award for Excellence in Research from the Alexander von
Humboldt-Foundation and of the EMET Prize
Dani Karavan, Sculptor, projects include the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National
Socialism in Berlin, the Regensburg Synagogue Memorial and the Way of Human Rights in
Nuremberg; recipient of the Israel Prize
Miki Kratsman, Photographer; former head of the Photography Department at Bezalel Academy
of Arts and Design; recipient of the EMET Prize
Alex Levac, Photographer, recipient of the Israel Prize
Prof. (emeritus) Yehuda Judd Ne’eman, Tel Aviv University, recipient of the Israel Prize
Dr. (emeritus) Mark Levene, Department of History, University of Southampton UK; Parkes
Centre for Jewish/non-Jewish Relations; recipient of the Lemkin Prize of the Institute for the
Study of Genocide
Prof. Neil Levi, English Department (chair), Drew University
Dr. Anat Matar, Department of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University
Prof. (emeritus) Paul Mendes-Flohr, Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor Emeritus of Modern
Jewish History and Thought and Associate Faculty in the Department of History, The University
of Chicago Divinity School; Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem
Prof. Isaac Nevo, Department of Philosophy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Prof. (emeritus) Adi Ophir, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and
Ideas, Tel Aviv University; Visiting Professor of the Humanities, The Cogut Institute for the
Humanities and the Center for Middle East Studies, Brown University
Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, School of Education, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; The
David Yellin Academic College of Education; co-recipient of the Sakharov Prize
Prof. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Department of Jewish History, Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev, recipient of the Zalman Shazar Prize for Jewish History
Prof. (emerita) Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Departments of English Literature and Comparative
Literature, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and
Humanities
Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Head of the Talmud and Late Antiquity section, The Department of
Jewish Philosophy and Talmud, Tel Aviv University
Prof. Michael Rothberg, 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies, Department of
Comparative Literature, University of California
Prof. Catherine Rottenberg, Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of
Nottingham
Prof. Barry Trachtenberg, Michael R. and Deborah K. Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish
History, Department of History, Wake Forest University
Prof. David Shulman, Department of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, recipient of the Israel Prize and of the
EMET Prize
Prof. (emeritus) Moshe Zuckermann, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of
Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University



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  Number of right-wing extremists in Germany on rise, security report suggests

Right-wing extremism increased in Germany last year, the country's domestic intelligence agency has reported, with over 32,000 extremists identified. The report also found that more suspects are prepared to use violence.

   

Right-wing extremism poses the biggest threat to security in Germany, the country's interior minister said Thursday at the presentation of the 2019 report by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

In Berlin, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the head of Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) Thomas Haldenwang presented the organization's most recent findings, which showed that right-wing extremism in Germany sharply increased last year.

According to the report, the BfV identified 32,080 right-wing extremists in Germany in 2019, up from 24,100 the year before.

The BfV classified 13,000 of these cases as prepared to use violence, 300 more than in 2018.

Right-wing extremism, racism, and anti-Semitism continue to increase in Germany, Seehofer said.

"These areas are the biggest threat to security in Germany," he said.

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Former AfD faction boosts extremist numbers

Seehofer pointed to government action over the last year, saying no other government in Germany had done so much to fight far-right extremism.

In recent months, several extreme far-right organizations were banned for views or activities deemed anti-constitutional.

For the first time this year, the BfV report also reviewed the activities and member of the radical "Flügel", or Wing, faction of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

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The controversial faction officially disbanded earlier this year after the BfV put the group under surveillance. But the agency estimates there remains a membership of around 7,000 individuals, some 20% of the AfD.

This accounts for a significant share of the increase in right-wing extremists recorded by the BfV in 2019.

"Racism and anti-Semitism emerge to a very considerable degree out of right-wing extremism," Seehofer said. "Over 90% of anti-Semitic incidents can be traced back to right-wing extremism.  And therefore it is not an exaggeration to say this is the biggest security policy concern in our country."

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Left-wing extremism also on the rise

The report also noted an uptick in left-wing extremists, logging 33,500 extremists from the far-left spectrum in 2019 compared to 32,000 the year before.

"Characteristic of the left-wing extremist scene is its pronounced heterogeneity," the report said. "The left-wing extremist scene can be divided into two camps — violent and non-violent left-wing extremists."

The BfV recorded 6,449 criminal acts motivated by left-wing extremism in 2019, up from 4,622 in 2018, a near 40% increase.  Just over 900 of these crimes were considered violent.

Islamic terrorism also remains a significant threat, the report found.

"The danger of [Islamic] terrorism in Germany is still very high," Seehofer said, adding that the BfV had identified nearly 650 cases of the threat of Islamic terror last year.

Attacks and planned attacks in Germany and Europe are, however, declining overall, the report said.

Breaking the trend

BfV head Haldenwang noted that the coronavirus crisis had pushed recent right-wing attacks in Germany out of the news cycle, but said the security agency continued in its work preventing such events.

Among far-right extremists there exists a "competition" as to which attack can result in the highest number of victims, Haldenwang said.

"We're talking about breaking a 'high score' of number of victims," he said. "We have to break this trend."

To this end, Haldenwang called on the media to resist putting too much focus on the perpetrators of terrorist attacks.

kp/rs (AFP, dpa, epd)  

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