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JPost - NGOs demand German Shoah group pay victims

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  • Paul
    JPost - Tue, Oct 4, 2011 The Jerusalem Post NGOs demand German Shoah group pay victims By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 10/04/2011 00:28
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2011
      JPost - Tue, Oct 4, 2011
      The Jerusalem Post

      NGOs demand German Shoah group pay victims
      10/04/2011 00:28

      Foundation accused of misusing 20,000 euros to fund programs that
      delegitimize the Jewish state.


      BERLIN – A German foundation called EVZ, set up to compensate slave
      workers during the Holocaust and fight contemporary anti- Semitism, is
      being taken to task by Israeli, US, and German NGOs for its failure to
      remedy its reported misuse of public funds to support anti- Israel

      Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor,
      told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “It is very troubling that the
      Remembrance Responsibility Future (EVZ) Foundation has not provided
      specific steps to compensate victims of the Nazis and educate about the
      horrors of the regime.

      “Instead of fulfilling this goal and combating anti- Semitism – both
      part of the Foundation’s mandate – EVZ has funded German and Arab
      student programs that present distorted views of the Arab-Israeli
      conflict, compare Israeli policies to those of previous, repressive
      German governments, and developed student materials with anti-Semitic
      images and texts,” added Steinberg.

      NGO Monitor, a prominent watchdog organization, has exposed over the
      years European NGOs who misappropriated public funds to undercut
      Israel’s legitimacy as a state. According to NGO Monitor, the group
      closely monitors the work of European NGOs and their misallocation of
      funds “to promote the Palestinian narrative, and not for peace-building
      measures based on mutual understanding.”

      The EVZ was founded in 2000 with a contribution of 5 billion euros by
      the Federal German government and German industry to compensate former
      slave and forced laborers during the Nazi period. A segment of the EVZ
      funds are designed to finance educational projects.

      Steinberg told the Post that “The EVZ misused 20,000 euros to fund
      programs that actually contribute to the delegitimization of Israel.
      This information has been presented to EVZ, and yet the Foundation
      refuses to say how it will remedy the situation. The German government,
      which funds EVZ, should immediately cease funding and stop all
      operations until a complete evaluation of committee members, funding
      mechanisms and programming is complete.”

      The Post reported last week that EVZ used German-taxpayer funds to
      publish school booklets depicting Israel as a violent state that
      discriminates against Israeli- Arab pupils. The school brochures equate
      Israel with the former communist East German state and assert that
      Palestinians and Germans are both victims.

      The Nazi regime, historians say, frequently invoked the anti-Semitic
      argument that Germans were the victims of Jewish plots.

      Multiple Post e-mail queries to the chairman of the EVZ, Dr. Martin
      Salm, and the EVZ spokesman, Dietrich Wolf Fenner, were not returned in
      connection with whether the misused funds for anti-Israeli activities
      will be returned.

      The EVZ refused to answer additional Post queries about criticisms last
      week from the European Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and
      the American Jewish Committee. The EVZ told the Post last week that the
      foundation plans to review their programs.

      The Berlin-based office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) urged the
      EVZ last week to “review its human-rights program guidelines and create
      targeted programming to combat anti-Semitism and contribute to a
      balanced understanding of modern Israel.”

      “A foundation that was initiated by the German government and industry
      to honor the lives of millions of Nazi slave and forced laborers should
      give priority to initiatives that promote good relations with Israel and
      fight modern forms of anti- Semitism,” said Deidre Berger, director of
      AJC Berlin Ramer Institute for German- Jewish Relations.

      Berger added that “Unfortunately, programs combating anti-Semitism
      constitute an extremely small part of the foundation’s annual program.
      And some programs, reflecting a skewed humanrights agenda, may do more
      harm than good.”

      Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC’s director of International Jewish Affairs, is a
      member of the EVZ Board of Trustees.

      “I fully expect that there will be a thorough discussion about this when
      the board meets in December. The reputation of the EVZ Stiftung hangs in
      the balance.” said Baker.

      “The German government must assert its role on the EVZ Board of
      Trustees,” said Anne Herzberg, an NGO Monitor legal adviser.

      She added that “The time for excuses is over. The German government has
      a responsibility to fix this problem now. The educational damage done to
      students can be reversed by teaching them about the true values of human
      rights, tolerance, and the realities of anti-Semitism. Most importantly,
      the government needs to direct funding to survivors, as it was initially

      Sacha Stawski, head of the German watchdog organization Honestly
      Concerned, which monitors anti-Semitism in the German media, told the
      Post on Sunday that “Sadly, though, Dr. Salm, someone who has been
      working for an institution, which sets its goal on ‘remembrance,’
      ‘responsibility’ and ‘the future,’ for so many years, really has not
      understood a single thing about anti-Semitism when he then goes on to
      say that ‘he is absolutely sure that none of the caricatures are
      ‘anti-Semitically motivated.’”

      Stawski, whose organization is slated to launch the largest pro-Israel
      European conference on October 23 in Frankfurt, added, “Wake up, Dr.
      Salm: It was your job to teach these youngsters not to be anti-Semites
      and yet, at the end of your project, they come out drawing hate-filled
      anti-Semitic caricatures. You failed. Your [publicly financed] project
      failed. And instead of admitting your mistake and admitting that there
      is a lot more work to be done, you tried to silence your critics.

      “You should have know better and it is you, yourself, who has most
      certainly disqualified himself from being an expert on the German
      Interior Ministry’s Panel of anti-Semitism experts, let alone an
      educator for an institution like the EVZ.”

      Salm, the head of the EVZ, is a member the German Federal government’s
      commission on anti-Semitism. The commission is expected to issue a
      report on efforts to combat anti-Semitism in early November.
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