• Petition in Zeichnung - On the IHRA definition of anti-semitism

    at 17 Dec 2019 12:55

    Dear supporters of the petition,

    Here I would like to provide some background material on the IHRA "definition".

    There is not much to object to the definition per se, except that it is imprecise and too broad.

    Pragmatically, that was fine when it was introduced.
    Indeed, its lack of precision and broad range was fully intended by its creator, Kenneth Stern. Its purpose was to be a "working definition": Stern wanted to give the police in the EU a framework about which misdemeanors and crimes might be anti-Semitic.
    Kenneth Stern registers with shock and protest that this broad definition and especially its examples of application to Israel are now being used worldwide to restrict freedom of speech about Israel's policies, see recently [1] or more detailed [2].

    As a definition, the IHRA working definition is, as already mentioned, imprecise and vague. (See the detailed criticism in Peter Ulrich's expertise [English version: 3] as well as the shorter criticisms of my co-initiators Georg Meggle and Norman Paech [4,5]). Its significance lies in the fact that, through a number of apparently arbitrarily arranged examples, it also places opposition to Israel's policies, partisanship for the Palestinians, and even an attitude based on peace and reconciliation of the conflict under the general suspicion of anti-Semitism (even towards Jewish people [6,7,8]) and thus has already justified prohibitions of speech in the eyes of its supporters ([6,7,8,9]). Actually, anti-Semitism may be defined precisely and comprehensively [here by Georg Meggle: 10], even though differentiated considerations are always appropriate for evaluating its actual presence instead of the quick shots widespread today [11].

    In general, the climate created by politics through the propagation of the IHRA definition endangers the freedoms of opinion and assembly guaranteed by the German Basic Law. (S. decisions by the Higher Administrative Court Lüneburg and the Administrative Court Cologne, [12,13]). Especially at universities this may develop into endangering the freedom of research and teaching and the free discourse.

    This well-intentioned resolution of the HRK shows in deplorable clarity: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Anti-Semitism cannot be combated by banning free speech about obvious injustice - the human rights violations committed by Israel's policies.
    This has nothing at all to do with combating the Halle assassin’s sympathizers. Compare the furor with which the non-violent Palestinian resistance movement BDS (Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions against Israel) is fought in Germany on all levels and especially by "anti-Semitism commissioners" with the deafening silence on the Halle assassin’s ideological influencers. He justified his violent action against Jews with the fact that "the Jews" under the leadership of George Soros want to disintegrate the Occident with Muslim immigration and women's emancipation. This line of argument against Soros comes from Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and has already been used by Donald Trump. I happened to be in Budapest in July 2017 and, to my horror, saw the underground stations paved with posters commissioned by Orban showing a grinning George Soros, subtitled "Don't let him be the last to laugh" in Hungarian. The Halle assassin stuck by this ...

    Best regards
    Rolf Publisher

    References:
    [1] www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/antisemitism-executive-order-trump-chilling-effect?CMP=share_btn_fb
    [2] docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU00/20171107/106610/HHRG-115-JU00-Wstate-SternK-20171107.pdf
    [3https://www.rosalux.de/fileadmin/rls_uploads/pdfs/rls_papers/Papers_3-2019_Antisemitism.pdf
    [4] www.heise.de/tp/features/Grundrecht-auf-freie-Meinungsaeusserung-und-Rede-ist-bedroht-4602337.html
    [5] www.heise.de/tp/features/Sprachregelung-fuer-unsere-Unis-Einspruch-4598877.html
    [6] www.heise.de/tp/features/Beschluss-der-HRK-zur-IHRA-Definition-von-Antisemitismus-4602268.html
    [7] www.jrbernstein.de/blog-1/2019/10/20/meinungsfreiheit-oder-zensur
    [8] bibjetzt.wordpress.com/2019/09/28/bip-aktuell-87-muenchner-gesinnungsschnueffelei/
    [9] www.rolf-verleger.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Brief-an-Flugblattverfasser.pdf
    [10] www.heise.de/tp/features/Genau-wann-bin-ich-Antisemit-4547202.html
    [11] www.jmberlin.de/sites/default/files/antisemitism-in-europe-today_2-klug.pdf
    [12] www.lebenshaus-alb.de/magazin/012513.html
    [13] www.rechtsprechung.niedersachsen.de/jportal/portal/page/bsndprod.psml?doc.id=MWRE190001146&st=null&showdoccase=1

  • Petition in Zeichnung - Interim Appraisal

    at 17 Dec 2019 10:41

    Deutsche Version folgt in zweitem Schreiben.
    ***
    Dear supporters,

    Our petition has been on-line for nine days. Now it is time for some interim appraisal.

    We have been asked several times what exactly may be objected against the IHRA “definition" of antisemitism. I will comment on this in a second letter.

    Well, here is an interim appraisal:

    Today, Dec 17, 9:30h a.m. MET, we are 845 supporters of the petition: 764 at the German version and 81 at the English one.

    Originally we had planned to restrict the circle of supporters to academics at German universities, being the immediately affected persons. But we dismissed this restriction, after so many people had signed who are either not academics or have not been active at German universities.
    Therefore, we thank all of you for your solidarity and would like to encourage you in bringing this petition to the attention of as many people as possible.

    Before Georg Meggle and I had started this petition, Georg had written to the president of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). In the near future, we will further write to the rectors of all 268 universities and academies that are HRK members, in order to suggest that they may revise their resolution on the IHRA “definition”. When doing so, we will inform them about this petition, of course.

    It was particularly encouraging when, three days ago, Amos Goldberg from Jerusalem sent our call to his list of addressees. Prof. Goldberg is the initiator of the letter to the German parliament (Bundestag) from 240 Jewish academics opposing against the anti-BDS resolution in May (and, recently, of a similar letter to the French assemblée nationale). It is mainly through his help that we have a nice number of Jewish/Israeli academics as supporters, thereby providing us with a strong argument justifying our request.

    It is in this vein that I will do a little bit of name dropping about who signed so far (asking all those that remain unmentioned for their mercy):

    Professors (mostly) of Jewish descent, international:
    USA: Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Lawrence Davidson, Daniel Boyarin, Susan Slyomovics, Elsa Auerbach, Lisa Rofel, Joel Beinin, Colin Dayan, Rush Rehm, Andrew S. Bergerson
    Israel: Amos Goldberg, Gadi Algazi, Yonathan Anson, Micah Leshem, Ofer Aharony, David Enoch, Nomi Erteshik-Shir, Avner Ben-Amos, Tommy Dreyfus
    Belgium: Henri Hurwitz, Marc David, Willie van Peer, Victor Ginsburgh
    France: James Cohen, Marc Steinling, Pascal Lederer, Jeanne Lichtenstein Fagnani, Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun
    Great Britain: Donald Sassoon, Yosefa Loshitzky, Yossef Rapoport, Engin Isin
    Others: Igor Primoratz (IL, AUS), Larry Haiven (CAN), Yakov Rabkin (CAN), Roy Wagner (CH), Michel Legrand (LUX)

    We have plenty of other powerful personalities among these international supporters, like the psychiatrist Georges Yoram Federmann (fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Yoram_Federmann), the saxophonist Lena Bloch, the author Danièle Gervais-Marx

    Professors in Germany on the list of signatories (insofar the title of professor either was indicated or is known to me; to my knowledge, five of us are of Jewish):
    Philosophy: Georg Meggle, Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer, Helmut Pape, Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende, Lothar Kreiser, Christoph Lumer
    Law: Norman Paech, Kai Ambos, Jörg Arnold
    Theology: Ulrich Duchrow, Dorothee Roer, Ulrich Hübner, Gottfried Orth, Johannes Wallmann
    Mathematics: Hans Bandelt, Günter Törner
    German studies: Eberhard Ockel
    Political science: Srirupa Roy, Helga Baumgarten, Karin Kulow, Michael Klundt, Werner Ruf, Bodo Zeuner
    Music: Sidney Corbett
    Photography: Heiner Schmitz
    Pedagogics: Micha Brumlik, Eva Borst, Iman Attia, Peter Rödler, Wolfgang Jantzen
    Communication: Michael Meyen
    History: Paul Münch
    Medicine: Michael Kochen, Jan Hildebrandt, Otwin Linderkamp, Michael Falkenstein, Wulf Dietrich
    Physics: Franz Fujara, Georg Bastian, Christian Jooß
    Oriental studies: Udo Steinbach, Martin Beck (DK), Irene Schneider, Rupa Viswanath
    Informatics: Fanny-Michaela Reisin, Eberhard von Goldammer
    Sociology: Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, Richard Sorg
    Economy: Jürgen Kunze
    Agriculture: Hans Haußmann
    Psychology: Rolf Verleger, Wilhelm Kempf, Birgit Kröner-Herwig, Werner Sommer, Günter Knoblich (Ö), Peter Kirsch, Andrea Kiesel, Wolfgang Kallus (Ö), Markus Kiefer, Hartmut Schächinger, Markus Junghöfer, Stefan Debener, Hans Markowitsch, Nele Wild-Wall

    Whoever is missing on this list or feels being misclassified: please write me.

    On behalf of Georg Meggle, I thank all of you for your support. Please help us in making the number of signatories increase further.

    Rolf Verleger

  • Änderungen an der Petition

    at 14 Dec 2019 22:56

    As a matter of course, we do not mind the first and third paragraphs of the resolution. On the contrary, we have already quoted these paragraphs positively in the text. This is better captured by this changed phrasing.


    Neuer Petitionstext: Every form of discrimination is reprehensible: this is also true of anti-Semitism, that is, discrimination against Jews. This is also the assumption behind the resolution "No place for anti-Semitism" (1) adopted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) of 19 November 2019.
    This is precisely why we object to two of the rest four paragraphs of this resolution. It demands There, the adoption of the "IHRA definition" of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is demanded, a definition propagated for clearly political purposes and which is highly controversial. Approved by the German Bundestag and Federal Government, this definition should now be "established in all places of higher learning", in other words, this definition should now become the compulsory basis for our speech, thought and research in all such institutions.
    Our objection to this HRK resolution is based on two grounds, one being more formal in nature while the other is a question of substance. To begin with, we contest the HRK's assumption that it can impose any sort of binding rules of speech upon institutions of higher education and further we protest against any concrete restrictions (e.g. bans on public demonstrations) associated with this "IHRA definition" which are already being applied to hinder public reflection upon Israel's policy of occupation, a policy which has been in place now for more than 50 years. This reflection being restricted is one which is oriented toward international law and universal human rights.
    In both of these respects we see our fundamental freedoms of speech, teaching and research threatened. And that this threat emanates from the HRK, which calls itself "the voice of the universities" and which, quite rightly regards universities as the "centers of democratic culture, locus of dialogue and places of diversity" is particularly troubling. We see in this decision a blatant contradiction, one which has evidently escaped the attention of the last HRK General Assembly.
    We therefore appeal to the President of the HRK and to all members of the HRK - i.e. to all rectors of the 268 institutions of higher education in Germany - to revise this resolution so as not to include any parts which go beyond the general condemnation of anti-Semitism and further not to allow the kinds of restrictions of speech prescribed above, restrictions which moreover are clearly inadequate as regulative and compulsory norms for the use of language at our universities.
    We would therefore like to ask all those who are directly affected by this HRK resolution - our academic colleagues from all disciplines at German institutions of higher education - to support us in this effort. Support our OBJECTION with your signature to this petition addressed to the HRK leadership!
    In the "Comment" field ("Why is the petition important to you?"), please enter your subject area and your (former) university.
    (1) www.hrk.de/positionen/gesamtliste-beschluesse/beschluss/detail/kein-platz-fuer-antisemitismus/

    Unterschriften zum Zeitpunkt der Änderung: 708

  • Änderungen an der Petition

    at 14 Dec 2019 22:36

    Incorrect arithmetics!! (2019-1967 = 52 years of occupation, which is "more than 50" but not "more than 60"


    Neuer Petitionstext: Every form of discrimination is reprehensible: this is also true of anti-Semitism, that is, discrimination against Jews. This is also the assumption behind the resolution "No place for anti-Semitism" (1) adopted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) of 19 November 2019.
    This is precisely why we object to the rest of this resolution. It demands the adoption of the "IHRA definition" of anti-Semitism, a definition propagated for clearly political purposes and which is highly controversial. Approved by the German Bundestag and Federal Government, this definition should now be "established in all places of higher learning", in other words, this definition should now become the compulsory basis for our speech, thought and research in all such institutions.
    Our objection to this HRK resolution is based on two grounds, one being more formal in nature while the other is a question of substance. To begin with, we contest the HRK's assumption that it can impose any sort of binding rules of speech upon institutions of higher education and further we protest against any concrete restrictions (e.g. bans on public demonstrations) associated with this "IHRA definition" which are already being applied to hinder public reflection upon Israel's policy of occupation, a policy which has been in place now for more than 60 50 years. This reflection being restricted is one which is oriented toward international law and universal human rights.
    In both of these respects we see our fundamental freedoms of speech, teaching and research threatened. And that this threat emanates from the HRK, which calls itself "the voice of the universities" and which, quite rightly regards universities as the "centers of democratic culture, locus of dialogue and places of diversity" is particularly troubling. We see in this decision a blatant contradiction, one which has evidently escaped the attention of the last HRK General Assembly.
    We therefore appeal to the President of the HRK and to all members of the HRK - i.e. to all rectors of the 268 institutions of higher education in Germany - to revise this resolution so as not to include any parts which go beyond the general condemnation of anti-Semitism and further not to allow the kinds of restrictions of speech prescribed above, restrictions which moreover are clearly inadequate as regulative and compulsory norms for the use of language at our universities.
    We would therefore like to ask all those who are directly affected by this HRK resolution - our academic colleagues from all disciplines at German institutions of higher education - to support us in this effort. Support our OBJECTION with your signature to this petition addressed to the HRK leadership!
    In the "Comment" field ("Why is the petition important to you?"), please enter your subject area and your (former) university.
    (1) www.hrk.de/positionen/gesamtliste-beschluesse/beschluss/detail/kein-platz-fuer-antisemitismus/

    Unterschriften zum Zeitpunkt der Änderung: 705

  • Änderungen an der Petition

    at 13 Dec 2019 11:00

    Hatte die Links am Ende vergessen (die in der deutschen Version drin sind)


    Neue Begründung: Do our fundamental freedoms of freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and freedom of research and teaching also apply to our universities?
    Whoever agrees with this statement needs no further justification in order to support the request outlined above. We ourselves have already explained our own motivation for this action in publicly published objections directed toward the HRK, giving both personal and more general arguments. The restrictions we mentioned concerning public reflection on the Israel/Palestine conflict which center on international law and human rights are not only a source of fear for the future but are already in our time a matter of increasingly prevalent practice, one which now could claim legitimacy through this HRK resolution.
    See letters to the German Rectors' Conference chair by the initiators of this petition:
    Georg Meggle
    www.heise.de/tp/features/Sprachregelung-fuer-unsere-Unis-Einspruch-4598877.html
    Norman Paech
    www.heise.de/tp/features/Grundrecht-auf-freie-Meinungsaeusserung-und-Rede-ist-bedroht-4602337.html
    Rolf Verleger
    www.heise.de/tp/features/Beschluss-der-HRK-zur-IHRA-Definition-von-Antisemitismus-4602268.html

    Unterschriften zum Zeitpunkt der Änderung: 589

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