A German university face scathing criticism from Israel’s foreign ministry for teaching students that the Jewish state is an apartheid government that harvests Palestinian organs and commits genocidal atrocities.
“This is an ugly and outrageous demonstration of Jew hatred. This is not a university – it is a hatred factory. One would think that in Germany of all places people would understand the pernicious nature of hatred and racism under a pseudo academic guise”, Emmanuel Nahshon, the foreign ministry’s spokesman, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email on Thursday.
The HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts in the city of Hildesheim in the German state of Lower Saxony has taught a course assaulting Israel’s existence for at least 10 years.
The academic Dr. Rebecca Seidler, who blew the whistle on the anti-Israel seminar, told the Post she was slated to teach a course on Jewish life in Germany, but was presented with course material for a seminar titled “On the Social Situation of Young People in Palestine.” After Seidler reviewed the seminar articles and material, she told the Post in a telephone interview on Thursday, she could not teach a seminar with “such anti-Semitic and anti-Israel” content.
The Post examined scores of articles for the course curriculum for the period 2015-2016. One seminar article from 2009 titled “Our sons are plundered of their organs” by the Swedish journalist Donald Boström, claims Israel harvests Palestinian organs. The article was translated into German for the seminar.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the organ-harvesting report at the time to “medieval libels that Jews killed Christian children for their blood.” In an interview with Israel Radio, Boström later casted doubt on his sourcing, adding that he could not verify the stories of his Palestinian informants.
Articles for the seminar ranged from “Apartheid in the Holy Land” to “70 victims of torture in Israeli prisons since 1967” to “Third Class Citizens: The targeted discrimination of Arab Israelis.” The source for the article on “Third Class Citizens” is the far left weekly Junge Welt–a socialist paper accused of stoking modern anti-Semitism in Germany.
Additional articles covered “The Israeli Apartheid Wall” and Israeli violations of the rights of Palestinian children. The curriculum features poetry from the late hardcore anti-Zionist writer Erich Fried, whose literature makes parallels between Israel and the Hitler movement. Several articles accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. One document from the German-Palestinian Society on Jewish groups who massacred Palestinians invites the HAWK students to become members of the pro-Palestinian NGO.
In a statement published on the HAWK’s website, the president of HAWK ,Dr. Christiane Dienel, cited articles in the Post, the German Jewish weekly Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung, and criticism from the Central Council of Jewish in Germany as stifling debate at the HAWK.
She wrote the goal of the coverage is “with all means to prevent that different perspective to this conflict [Palestinian] are allowed at the University.” Dienel added “moral pressure and the completely unfounded accusation of anti-Semitism” are used to ban criticism at our university.
In a statement to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, the HAWK doubled-down on its decision to continue teaching the material on Israel harvesting Palestinian organs and the allegations Israel is an apartheid state.
“The ethics committee has no reservations to continue the seminar ‘On the Social Situation of Young People in Palestine’. There is no evidence that the academic course promotes anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic sentiments. The committee appreciates that the Faculty conveys an accurate image of the situation in Israel…,” wrote the HAWK’s press department.
When asked if the Post can interview the members of the ethics committee, Florian Klan, a spokesman for HAWK, declined to provide the names.
The HAWK press statement said, “The range of courses and seminars at the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts is designed to teach students to examine pieces of information critically from different and potentially conflicting sources and to engage in the resulting discourses. We do not consider it a valid method of academic evaluation to judge a seminar purely based on supplied reading materials.”
The Berlin-based Amadeu Antonio Foundation, an organization devoted to combating anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, wrote a detailed expert opinion in 2015 on the HAWK seminar.
According to the report’s findings, which was authored by Jan Riebe, the seminar is not about “ the social situation of young people in the Palestinian territories. It serves to demonize Israel. “
Riebe said the seminar aims to convey that Israel could be construed in the same way as National Socialism, as well as the former apartheid regime in South Africa. Riebe wrote the course material propagates “old and new anti-Semitic resentments” and a historical picture that is hostile to Israel. He described the syllabus material as “non-academic.”
The Associate Dean of the Los Angeles-based human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told the Post on Thursday: “Genocidal Jew-hatred and racist ideology were incubated, validated, and promoted by German universities from the earliest days of the Third Reich.”
Cooper added, “In 2016, This despicable, extreme anti-Semitism and anti-Israel canard masquerading as a “course” should be denounced by leaders of German academic and Medical circles.
Further, no German taxpayer funds should be used to promote the blood libel.”
The complaints of Seidler, the German Jewish academic who refused to teach the seminar, were rebuffed by Christa Paulini, the dean of the social work department, in 2015. Paulini told Seidler that she reacted in a ”personally sensitive” way to the seminar material.