The “Israel Lobby” threatens freedom of speech in Germany
Jewish groups led by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) has demanded that popular German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung apologize to Jewish people for publishing a cartoon which implies that Netanyahu is ready to kill the latest Israel-Palestinian peace talks initiated by John Kerry.(Cartoon below )Editors Note
“Israel lobby” used pressure and false allegations as leverage to pressure the institution to break an existing contract.
by Dr. Ludwig Watzal
13th August 2013. Due to the pressure from the “Israel lobby”, events and exhibitions about Palestine can hardly take place in Germany anymore. The pro- Zionist “Israel lobby” is well organized. When an event is announced publicly, perfectly organized machinery is set in motion, which exercises massive pressure on those who provide the premises for a Palestinian event. Consequently, it has become almost impossible to have an open discussion about Israel’s brutal occupation and the colonization in Palestine.
The latest “success” of the public bullying of organizations was garnered in Berlin. The cultural department of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin wanted to organize a conference entitled “Palestine – Peace based on justice” on Friday, August 16, 2013 at the educational institution “Urania”. All formalities were cleared. Speakers were committed among them the journalist Petra Wild who just published a book entitled “Apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestine: The Zionist settler colonialism in word and deed”, the film-makers Stefanie Landgraf and Johannes Gulde who’s film “We refuse to be enemies” was highly acclaimed but also defamed by the lobby in cooperation with one of the cities deputy majors in Nuremberg, Dr. Gabi Weber who runs the organization “Café Palestine” in Freiburg, Raif Hussein, the chairman of the German-Palestine society, and Dr. Yavuz Özoguz who operates the website “Muslim Market” who is also regularly defamed.
Because of the extent of bullying from the “Israel lobby”, the director of “Urania”, Dr. Ulrich Bleyer, unceremoniously pulled back the already given commitment. In addition to the usual extremist suspects,1 the chairman of the German-Israeli society, Reinhold Robbe (SPD), wrote a letter2 to Bleyer in which he not only misquoted the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani, but also sets this misquotation in relation to the unspeakable German historical past. In this case, the “Israel lobby” used pressure and false allegations as leverage to pressure the institution to break an existing contract.
Dr. Bleyer wrote inter alia to the Iranian Embassy: “The program and the research on the speakers can clearly expect that our statutory goal of international understanding, which is also defined in the terms of our agreements as a condition of hire is not respected.” Why didn’t the director of “Urania” inform himself beforehand? He further was afraid that the speakers could challenge “Israel’s right to exist” and legitimize terrorism as “a form of resistance against an occupying power”. Dr. Bleyer expected a “large number of protesters”, and “that there will be clashes during the event or at the Urania.” The threats in the protest letters must have been so intimidating that he has canceled the event.
Cafe Palestine and Dr. Gabi Weber are increasingly in the crosshairs of this lobby, too. It prevented a lecture by Prof. Christophe Oberlin of the University of Paris on the topic “Plastic Surgery in Gaza” at the University of Freiburg. The lobby is always operating on the same pattern. Defame and put pressure on the institutions hoping that the Germans are already buckling which they regularly do. “Café Palestine” had to sue the University before the Administrative Court in Freiburg and won.3
Bonn – Another object of “desire” of the lobby is the traveling exhibition “Nakba – flight and expulsion of Palestinians in 1948”, which is organized by “Refugee children in Lebanon”, headed by Ms. Ingrid Rumpf. The organizers and the local authorities are put under pressure by German-Jewish and Israeli organizations. The goal is not about the discourse on this dubious chapter in the history of Israel. With the argument that the issue is one-sided and tendentious whose prohibition is required and sometimes enforced. Like always, the “brave” Germans buckle.
The problem is not so much the “power” of the “Israel lobby” but rather the submissiveness of their German “friends”. If the lobby cannot rely on their uncritical and vile support, they can easily refute because the lobby does not have real arguments. Chas Freeman, a former U. S. ambassador, was bullied by the “Israel lobby” before he could even take a job in the Obama administration. His characterization of this form of public bullying holds also true for the German branch4: “The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, and the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.”
It is high time for the Germans to recognize that the commitment for freedom in Palestine has become a fight for our own freedom of speech. Let aside the totalitarian control of all the peoples of the world by the U. S. Empire.
Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog http://between-the-lines-ludwig-watzal.blogspot.de/