Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Germany: News weekly owner compares Israel to National Front, fascists

The Jerusalem Post reports:
Jakob Augstein, a partial owner of and columnist for German newsweekly Der Spiegel, drew parallels last week between the Netanyahu government and historical European fascism, France’s National Front party and the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

Volker Beck, the Green Party spokesman for interior affairs and religion, in what appears to be the first public criticism of Augstein on the issue by a Bundestag deputy, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that in the publisher’s eyes, “Israel is to blame for everything – somehow also still for the right-wing populists of the AfD. Mr. Augstein is once again on the wrong track with his Israel obsession.”

In a column subtitled “Fascism is not a phenomenon of the past,” Augstein wrote, “so right-wing like the German right-wing populists is the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.” Augstein discussed Israel’s government within the context of the National Front.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post on Sunday, “Sadly, Augstein’s anti-Semitism is not a phenomenon of the past. Unfortunately, his latest article dumping the democratically elected Israeli government in the same basket with far-right and xenophobic parties confirms an anti-Israel bias so extreme that he merited criticism from a leading member of Germany’s Green Party.”

Pascal Beucker, a domestic politics editor for the left-leaning die taz daily, responding to Augstein’s column, wrote on Thursday: “With enthusiasm Augstein is always occupied with proving anew that he was correctly included in the ‘Top Ten Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel Slurs’ list of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.”

Ulf Poschardt, a journalist for the conservative- leaning Die Welt newspaper, praised Beucker’s column in a tweet on Friday: “danke [Thanks], @taz.”

Beucker wrote that “Augstein owes his wealth to the work of old Nazis with which his father, Rudolf Augstein, established Der Spiegel.”

Augstein and three family members together own 24 percent of Der Spiegel.

German critics of Augstein say he has actively promoted modern anti-Semitism and hatred of Orthodox Jewry, creating the intellectual space in which violence can breed.

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