November 8, 2010 | Quote

Diplomat Knocks Frankfurt Mayor for Honoring Anti-Zionist

The city of Frankfurt’s decision to honor French academic Alfred Grosser “casts an unfortunate and unnecessary shadow on the event” to commemorate the persecution of Jews in Germany because his views “regarding the State of Israel are illegitimate and immoral,” Emmanuel Nahshon, the deputy chief of mission for the Israeli Embassy in Germany, said on Thursday.

Mayor Petra Roth defended her invitation to Grosser to deliver a speech at next week’s commemoration of Kristallnacht, a wave of state-sponsored violence against German Jews on November 9, 1938.

In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Nahshon said Grosser’s “extreme opinions are tainted by self-hatred.”

The Israeli Embassy has gone on the offensive to counter the growing efforts in Germany to delegitimize the Jewish state.

German governments – including local and regional ones – frequently give anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Jews prizes and speaking engagements to vent criticism of Israel. Last year, then- German president Horst Köhler issued the Federal Merit Cross, one of the country’s most prestigious awards, to Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer, who has equated Israel with Nazi Germany and the South African apartheid regime.

Speaking from France, Grosser, a sociologist, political scientist and historian born to a German- Jewish family in Frankfurt in 1925, told the Post in a telephone interview that he stands by his statement that “criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism have nothing to do with each other.

It is rather Israel’s policies that promote anti-Semitism globally.”

Grosser has compared his treatment by the Nazis in the early 1930s with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. His family fled to France in 1933.

The “Palestinians are despised by Israel” and Israel has “no feeling for [the] suffering in Gaza and in the territories,” He told the Post.

“It’s all about understanding the suffering of others,” he said.

“This understanding generally does not exist on the part of Jews.”

Grosser said he plans to “criticize” Israel during his speech on Tuesday and to reference Theodor Herzl in saying that there should be “no discrimination by sex and religion” in Israel.

The speaking invitation has frayed relations between the city of Frankfurt and Germany’s Jewish community. The Central Council of Jews in Germany called for Grosser to be disinvited.

The Frankfurt Jewish community issued a statement, saying, “In recent years, he has represented escalating positions that are unacceptable for us.”

The Frankfurt Jewish community wrote that Grosser has issued a sweeping attack on the Central Council of Jews in Germany – the main umbrella organization for Germany’s 106,000 Jews. According to members of the Jewish community there, the Haifa-born Dieter Graumann and Salomon Korn, both vice presidents of the Central Council and residents of Frankfurt, plan to attend the Kristallnacht event but to walk out if Grosser engages in tirades against Israel.

Grosser previously called the Central Council one of the “worst” defenders of Israel because Graumann, who is expect to be the next president of the organization, and the Council have labeled outbreaks of hatred in Germany against Israel as anti-Semitic.

In a letter to Mayor Roth, Stephan J. Kramer, the generalsecretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote that “Grosser does not tire of equating the situation of the Palestinian population with the fate of millions of Jewish men, women and children during the Shoah… and for this reason plays down the Holocaust and the unspeakable suffering of the victims of National Socialism.”

Kramer added that a speech from Mr. Grosser at this location on this occasion is “impious and raises doubt about the until now authentic engagement of the city of Frankfurt.”

Roth has refused to withdraw the invitation to Grosser. In a statement issued on Thursday, she said, “I am especially happy about the growing relations with our partner city Tel Aviv and the many personal contacts with people in Israel. Precisely from this history grows Germany’s special responsibility for the security of Israel. Israel has my personal unconditional solidarity as well as that of the city of Frankfurt.”

Roth defended Grosser’s invitation to speak because of efforts to promote “international goodwill,” particularly between Germany and France.

She declined to answer queries from the Post about why the city intends to honor a known Israel-basher and did not specifically respond to the criticisms of diplomat Nahshon.

Grosser, professor emeritus at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris and a former research and studies director at the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques, frequently voices his anti-Israeli positions in the German media and academic journals.

In 2008, a B’nai B’rith official testified on Grosser’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments in Berlin at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. According to the OSCE hearing in the German Bundestag, Grosser’s statements could be construed as meeting the European Union’s definition of contemporary anti-Semitism.