The German Chapter of the Academic Society, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), criticizes this year´s Holocaust commemoration as flawed.

The official Commemorative events held at the Bundestag failed to mention Current Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial of the Iranian Regime
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We appreciate that the German Parliament (the Bundestag) again celebrated the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 2012 with a special commemoration event. The minute report about the Warsaw Ghetto read by the holocaust survivor Marcel Reich-Ranicki impressively brought to life the specific circumstances of the shoah mass murder.

We criticize the fact that at this year´s events commemorating the Wannsee-Conference and the liberation of Auschwitz the current Iranian attacks on Jews and the Jewish state of Israel were not mentioned. The Holocaust commemoration is debased if it tacitly ignores the fact that the Iranian government

  • completely commits it´s governmental agencies, including the foreign office and propaganda agencies, to mocking the shoah victims and denying the Holocaust;

  • does everything to spread their anti-Semitic ideology internationally and to convince the world that the eradication of Israel would help to liberate mankind;

  • develops long-range missiles and nuclear weapons with the declared goal of destroying Israel.

On the occasion of the Auschwitz commemoration day in 2007, five years ago, the president of the German parliament, Prof. Dr. Lammert explicitly devoted attention to the subject of Iran´s Jew-hatred. On January 29, 2007 he declared, “A state with nuclear weapons in Israel´s neighborhood led by an outspokenly anti-Semitic government is intolerable, not only for Israel. The global community must not tolerate such a threat”.

When, on commemoration day in 2010, Israel´s president Shimon Peres delivered the central speech at the German Bundestag, he mentioned the Iranian threat to Israel only indirectly and incidentally. During the events of 2008, 2009 and 2011 the issue of anti-Semitism and holocaust denial of Iran was completely dropped.

Accordingly, the German chapter of SPME, prior to this year´s holocaust commemoration event, addressed a letter to the president of the German Bundestag, Prof. Lammert, requesting “… at least in this year´s event on January 27 [that he] address and condemn the shameful fact that Iran denies the holocaust as official doctrine and publicizes this world-wide via the Internet…”

For his part, the president of the German Bundestag declined our request in a letter which went out under the signature of his office chief, Dr. Lorenz Müller. “He shares with SPME Germany´s evaluation of Iran´s threat to Israel and has condemned Iran´s threatening policies and it´s anti-Semitism on several occasions – even during the commemoration event in 2010 when Israel´s president Shimon Peres was present.” However, if “in 2012 he would do this again without a real cause, the expectation would be that he would do this on a regular basis – so long as the current threat has not changed. This would bear the danger of not really serving the purpose.”

We do not consider this argument convincing. It ignores that in 2012 the danger of an Iran with nuclear weapons is more imminent then ever. It implies furthermore that – as a general rule – the anti-Semitic threat of Iran is best answered with silence.

If the German Bundestag wants to live up to it´s self-proclaimed commitment to “learn from history”, it would be imperative to take these confused proclamations of an anti-Semitic leader seriously instead of silently getting used to them. It would be imperative to remind the public that even the bystanders who watch and keep silent will bear the guilt of passive complicity. No matter how much we differ in judging certain conflicts in the Middle East, we must stand together on this one point: We must denounce anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. If all this is neglected, the entire holocaust commemoration may lose its meaning.

Particularly on official occasions such as the 27th of January, we appeal to the delegates of the Bundestag as well as the organizations addressing the commemoration and the lessons learned from the history of the Holocaust to take a stand against the anti-Semitic state doctrine of Iran.

For the board of SPME-Germany,
February 5, 2012,
Ralf R. Schumann

The German Chapter of the Academic Society, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), criticizes this year´s Holocaust commemoration as flawed.

The official Commemorative events held at the Bundestag failed to mention Current Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial of the Iranian Regime
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Ralf R. Schumann

Ralf Schumann is a physician and professor of medicine at the famous "Charité", the joint Medical Faculty of both Humboldt-University and Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany. He is specialized in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology and is head of a research unit focusing on Immunology and Genetics. He is a founding member and current president of the German chapter of SPME and has recently organized a speakers series called "Berlin Middle East Talks" right in the center of the German capital.

He received his academic training at the Universities of Hamburg and Freiburg, Germany, and spent a 3 1/2 year postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, USA. Dr. Schumann published more than 150 research papers and received several academic awards. He currently holds a tenure full professorship at the Charité and is engaged in teaching an innovative reformed curriculum of Medicine in Berlin. He has started several scientific collaborations with Israel, and has visited the country more than 20 times. In 2005 he spent a full year as sabbatical at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, and lived there with his family including three children at that time.

The reason for founding SPME-Germany was that anti-Israel views in Europe and calls for boycotts are currently very virulent and even increasing. Joining the SPME network and working among the academic field is a highly important task in order return to a fair and unbiased view of the current situation. SPME-Germany has published many press releases and open letters i.e. protesting against current German and European politics towards Israel, but also on cultural and academic issues. A recent focus of SPME-Germany is an analysis of how the Middle East conflict is described in textbooks used officially in public schools. The sobering results of incorrect and one-sided views influencing young children early against Israel have been discussed in panel discussions and recent publications. Among the board of directors Dr. Schumann´s interest is to include the European perspective, and to expand SPME´s activity also into other European countries.

Read all stories by Ralf R. Schumann

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