The comparison between Gaza and a ghetto which blocked a price in Germany

A German foundation has announced that it will no longer award a political thought prize to Masha Gessen, an American journalist of Russian origin, as planned, deeming her work “unacceptable”. recent article on the New Yorker in which he compared the Gaza Strip to a Jewish ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Europe.

The decision of the Heinrich Böll Foundation has sparked a wide debate, in a country where discussions on the Israeli-Palestinian question are a little different from the rest of the world due to Germany’s Nazi past and its responsibility for the Holocaust. Gessen was to receive the Hannah Arendt Prize, named after the German historian and philosopher of Jewish origin, at a public ceremony Friday in Bremen. He will receive it on Saturday, but probably without any real ceremony, after the Green party (which is part of the foundation) decided to withdraw its support.

Gessen, who identifies as non-binary and comes from a Jewish family, in a lengthy essay published on December 9 by New Yorker he had criticized Germany’s unconditional support for Israel, arguing that German attention to the memory of the Holocaust had led to “out of control” decisions, such as the German parliament’s resolution in 2019. whom he described as anti-Semitic a movement that encouraged the boycott of Israel.

In particular, in the passage deemed “unacceptable” by the foundation, Gessen writes that ghetto would be “the most appropriate word” to describe the Gaza Strip, despite the controversy surrounding the comparison between “the condition of the besieged population in Gaza and that of locked-up Jews “can attract… into the ghetto”. He also added: “The word would also give us a way to describe what is currently happening in Gaza. The ghetto is about to be “liquidated”, a reference to the expression “Liquidation” which in German defined the raid on the ghetto in Krakow, Poland, on March 13, 1943.

The foundation said it completely rejects the idea that Israel wants to “fight Gaza like a Nazi-era ghetto.” He had decided to reward Gessen in August on the basis of a decision of an independent jury, with the motivation that “by analyzing decline and hope, Gessen tells about power games and totalitarian tendencies but at the same time also civil disobedience and love of freedom. “

In an interview published Tuesday in the newspaper The weather Gessen recalled that Arendt herself, known for coining the phrase “the banality of evil” during the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, had been the subject of great controversy for her criticism of The emerging Israeli state and its declared desire to exclude the Arab population from it. He said that Arendt had compared the positions of certain Israeli parties to those of the Nazis: “I know that those who have this kind of opinion, especially in Germany, are immediately accused of wanting to relativize the Holocaust. But the problem is that criticizing Israel is often considered anti-Semitic, which in my opinion constitutes a real anti-Semitic scandal. This goes beyond real anti-Semitism. »

This is not the first time that a literary prize has been presented in Germany since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel: on October 20, the Palestinian writer Adania Shibli was to receive a literary prize at the Hamas Book Fair. Frankfurt, but the award ceremony was postponed to a later date due to the conflict. Litprom, the cultural association that awarded the prize, did not explain in detail the reasons for postponing the award ceremony, but in the previous days some German-language newspapers had criticized the award ceremony at Shibli or had called it inappropriate due to its content. of the novel for which he received the prize, A minor detail. The first part of the book recounts the rape and murder of a young Palestinian Bedouin girl perpetrated by a group of Israeli soldiers in 1949; the second is the (invented) story of a journalist from Ramallah who decides to investigate the story of our days and who, at the end of the book, is killed by other Israeli soldiers after venturing into a military zone without authorization.

In Germany, the debate on Israel and Palestine is particularly complex. In recent months, several demonstrations organized to defend the Palestinian cause have been banned, provoking protests and discontent, particularly because it is believed that the country is home to the largest European Palestinian community, more than 100 thousand people according to estimates.

Unlike what happens in the rest of Western countries where (with exceptions and by simplifying more complex arguments and demands) the positions closest to the Palestinian cause are often supported by the left, in Germany there is a feeling of felt and transversal responsibility towards Israel. because of the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews perpetrated by the Nazi regime during World War II. Much attention is therefore collectively given to contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism, to which, however, criticism of Israeli policy is often attributed.

The collective recasting of German culpability in the extermination of the Jews means that today, at the institutional and political level but not only, the German left is more clearly aligned with the defense of Israel than other European countries. This situation, according to many, including Gessen, has significantly reduced the possibility of criticizing the aggressive policies promoted by Israel, particularly during the last years of right-wing governments.

Source: ilpost


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