The German magazine Der Spiegel has found itself embroiled in a new antisemitism scandal after the weekly published an issue depicting contemporary Jews in Germany as ultra-Orthodox Eastern European Jews with side locks.
The nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany wrote on its Twitter feed: “With the title picture, Der Spiegel unfortunately uses stereotypes of Jews. Therefore, the question arises as to what Der Spiegel intends with this photo selection and title. To portray Jews as foreign or exotic promotes antisemitic prejudices.”
The German Jewish community’s levelling of a second allegation of antisemitism against Spiegel within weeks is unprecedented. Dr. Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that a previous Spiegel article declaring that two small pro-Israel organizations control German foreign policy “clearly uses antisemitic clichés, fueling antisemitism. This type of reporting is irresponsible and dangerous.”
Sigmount Königsberg, the commissioner on antisemitism for Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin, tweeted, “a cover photograph for antisemites,” about the Spiegel issue.
He added in a separate tweet: “The doggedness with which Der Spiegel makes Jews in Germany bad recalls the work of Mr. Streicher.” The reference is to Julius Streicher, the founder and publisher of the rabidly antisemitic Nazi publication, Der Stürmer.
When asked about the new wave of allegations of antisemitism against the magazine, Spiegel spokeswoman Anja zum Hingst wrote by email: “The cover of issue of Jewish Life in Germany shows a historical street scene from 1928 in front of a lending library in Berlin’s Grenadierstraße. We chose the picture because it is an authentic scene from the Berlin Scheunenviertel; the picture shows public, visible Jewish life, as existed in Germany before the Holocaust.”
“At the time, many Jews living in Berlin’s Scheunenviertel – but not only of course – had fled to Germany because of persecution in Eastern Europe,” she added. “It was considered at that time the center of Jewish culture in Europe. Threads from East and West wove together, and here developed a Jewish everyday culture with bookstores, theaters and clubs, which was unique in Europe, and contributed a significant part to making Berlin the Roaring City of the [20th century].”
“On the cover picture we show an aspect from the rich variety of the German-Jewish history, which we portray in this history publication in many further facets,” zum Hingst noted. “We did not want to use an antisemitic cliché, if the impression was created, we are sorry. That was not our intention.”