According to Professor Gerald Steinberg, the German government funds many organizations that promote anti-Semitism. He said the supply of money needed to be cut off immediately.
There are problems with many non-governmental organizations, including some with big names. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, JVP, and others spread anti-Semitism, even during the Corona crisis. There are also NGOs that claim they are promoting human rights when they are affiliated with – or infiltrated by – terror organizations.
Gerald M. Steinberg, emeritus professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and President of the Institute for NGO Research in Jerusalem, said Germany played a big role in keeping the organizations strong, with plenty of funds.
Immanuel Marcus spoke to him.
Berlin Audience: As we have seen in the last few weeks, even the global Coronavirus crisis does not seem to stop antisemitism. How creative are haters today? Is blaming “Jews” for spreading the virus a new idea?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: Jews and Israel are the “other” main ones, and the Corona virus is another reason for suspicion, conspiracy theories and hatred from both ends of the ideological spectrum – left and right. What is particularly disturbing, in this context, is the readiness of governments who claim to oppose antisemitism to turn a blind eye when haters come from the “civil society” on the left, and vow to promote human rights, democracy, or even public health. Many groups which blames Israel for Gaza’s health disaster, for example, or affiliated with Palestinian terror groups, continue to be funded by the US and E.U. This cannot be forgiven.
Berlin Audience: In Germany, antisemites seem frustrated about the fact that they cannot bully Jews at cultural events or trade shows, because nothing has happened. They are now interfering with online meetings. A few days ago, they made it into an online memorial event organized by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, with Holocaust survivors, Tswi Herschel. They posted photos of Hitler and anti-Semitic derision. How did the Corona crisis change the way antisemitism was spread?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: Throughout history, antisemites have used every means and technology available. When social media became popular – in the form of Facebook and Twitter – resentment moved to this platform. So it is not surprising that, in the era of locking and quarantine, they were “bombardment” events such as the Holocaust memorial service held by the Israeli embassy and Jewish organizations. And the German political elite who participated in the demonization of a more civilized Israel, including political foundation, not helpful.
Berlin Audience: Many organizations distribute antisemitic content all the time, including one called ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ (JVP). But what they sent during this crisis cannot be explained. They accused Israel of being responsible for the Corona situation in Gaza and did not help, even though Israel and the Palestinian leadership agreed to work together in the war against Corona. How can the JVP get away with the untruth that it propagates?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: Having an NGO like the JVP that appears to be Jewish and can “testify” about the accuracy of the accusations against Jews and Israel is an old-fashioned tactic. When these alleged Jewish groups claim that Israel is evil and committed war crimes, and Palestinians are all innocent victims, lies are easier to sell in polite society. Church groups such as the World Council of Churches which promote antisemitic demonization, and BDS, often use groups such as the JVP to remove hatred. In fact, the JVP consists of some fringe radicals – some Jews, some not – who get a lot of money from basically non-Jewish sources, such as Stephen Heintz, chief Rockefeller Foundation in the us. With this money, the JVP employs public relations specialists and campus organizers to expand its influence, and its role in demonizing Israel. Unfortunately, a number of journalists and government officials were fooled by this facade.
Berlin Audience: Apparently, even such large and well-known NGOs Amnesty International (A.I.) chose Israel during the Corona crisis. According to A.I., Israel was suddenly responsible for the welfare of all Gazans, 15 years after the country left, and in spite of all attacks on Israel originating from the Gaza Strip. A.I. even denying Hamas using aid money for its terror infrastructure. There must be something wrong in the organization. What is that?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: In the past 20 years, Amnesty International has been taken over by radicals and, in some cases, corrupt activists. The myths that blame Israel, including in the Gaza case, are part of the organization’s facade. In the U.S., Amnesty has largely disappeared when former members became disgusted, and officials with morality have resigned in protest. Unfortunately, in Europe, including Germany, the human rights facade exploited by this organization to raise money and promote itself remains unquestioned.
Berlin Audience: You are an expert at an NGO that does not really meet their official name or program. Your own ‘NGO monitor’ checks their activities. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a case like that. Do they really pay attention to human rights, as the name suggests?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: Human Rights Watch was founded in 1978 by the late Robert Bernstein, named Helsinki Watch, with the explicit aim of promoting human rights in closed societies, such as the Soviet Union. However, starting in the 1990s, under the direction of Kenneth Roth, HRW lost the moral compass, as Bernstein wrote. Roth and his organization are widely known as obsessive anti-Israel campaigners, especially at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. They were also among the founders of the BDS movement, starting at the famous NGO Forum Durban 2001 conference.
Unfortunately, Roth and HRW have developed loyal and immoral support groups in Germany, where they also raise large funds at a dinner event with celebrities. As a result, the demonization of Israel spread by this organization has had a greater impact among the German elite. In 2019, during an intensive HRW demonization campaign involving BDS and led by Roth and Omar Shakir, German Ambassador to Israel, Susanne Wasum-Rainer, strongly supported and open to Roth and HRW. This is a great insult to the Israelites.
Berlin Audience: In Berlin, the BDS movement was big, although the Bundestag finally named it as it was. They say they reject terror, but participate in promoting events with Palestinian terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh. And they target anything related to Israel, even at trade shows and cultural events. What is the best reaction to their propaganda and hatred?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: The Bundestag’s decision to recognize BDS as antisemitic, as stated in the definition of IHRA words, is important, but it is ignored by the government. Millions of Euros are still given to many BDS groups, channeled through GIZ (‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’), the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, government-funded church organizations, political foundations, and independent NGO development, such as those documented by NGO supervisor. Most of these funds are provided by the German government without transparency, making it impossible for anyone, including the Bundestag, to conduct democratic oversight. So the first stage in countering the BDS campaign in Germany is to end the flow of all this money.
The second dimension is recognizing the deep involvement of terror organizations in Indonesia Palestinian NGO network that operates in Germany and also gets funding. Until this issue is taken seriously by Germany, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel campaigns, including BDS, will continue.
Berlin Audience: Now there is a problem in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Palestinian organizations are trying to hurt Israel there with false claims. How does Israel fight those efforts to discredit it?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: “Lawfare” – which uses the ICC specifically to make Israel worse – is closely linked to BDS. Both were launched at the famous NGO Forum at the 2001 anti-racism conference in Durban. Radical groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and their Palestinian allies, like Al Haq, promote both causes simultaneously.
Israel’s strategy is based on the argument that the ICC prosecutor does not have jurisdiction because Israel is not a signatory and Palestinians do not qualify as “state parties”. In addition to the US, a number of countries, including Germany, the US and Canada, agree with Israel’s position. If Europeans will threaten to end funding for the ICC and for the NGOs that lead this campaign, this will make a difference. Unfortunately, at least in Germany, such a clear policy seems impossible.
Berlin Audience: For a long time, Israel has been attacked by terrorists and soldiers. The country’s enemies also use diplomatic and economic warfare. Now, around his 72nd birthday, the country seems to be hurt too. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be indicted. What are the implications of this saga? What damage do you expect here? Do Israeli haters and other anti-Semites rejoice?
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg: This situation is disturbing on several levels, but may be less than what is seen from the outside. Prime Minister Netanyahu was generally given an award, even by many of his opponents, for directing Israel through the first phase of the Corona crisis with great success. The accusation and evidence against him are seen by many as politically inspired, and there is a clear possibility that he will be found innocent. The new unity government with former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces Benny Gantz and his new group of Knesset members created a mechanism for a successful transition to post-Netanyahu leadership. So overall, while I agree that the instability associated with the indictment is not good for Israel, the damage has been contained, at least so far.
And regarding Israeli haters and antisemites, in their different forms, they will always find a reason to promote their agenda.
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