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Datenbank zum Diskurs Palästina/Israel/Deutschland/Arabische Welt/Islam. Seit 2001 - Database on the discourse Palestine/Israel/Germany/Arab World/Islam. Since 2001
Meet the Press (4): Henryk M. Broder
An Online Reflection by Anis Hamadeh, 2006
Chapter 2

Deutsche Version

Chapter 2: Erhard Arendt - "Only a Break in the War against Israel" - Reactions - Anis Gets into Reading - Rupert Neudeck

- Erhard Arendt -

(June 30, 2006) On February 26, 2006, Christian Meier wrote in the Welt am Sonntag in the column "People & Media" under the title "Henryk M. Broder strikes back" the following: "'He pursues a form of literary polemics that is unique in the German-speaking world and thus he stands in a Jewish literary tradition of the pre-war era that consists of continuous attacks, ironical and ridiculing statements.' This is what the writer Leon de Winter wrote in the 'Jüdische Allgemeine' about the publicist Henryk M. Broder. Now, the 'Spiegel' journalist sued a retiree from Dortmund in the district court of Berlin. On his personal homepage Broder publishes texts dealing with Germany, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, Israel and Islam. Erhard Arendt, who runs an internet 'Palestine Portal', had criticized Broder on his website and along with it he used quotations penned by him. Moreover, he took photo collages by Broder (Elfriede Jelinek as a hamster in a running wheel) and modifed them in turn, attaching the picture of Broder instead. Broder felt that his personal rights and his copyrights were violated and he effected a restraining order. Not always does Broder feel that he is properly treated by the German jurisprudence: recently, in the context of another trial against his former publisher Abraham Melzer, he had called a Frankfurt court 'the heirs of the Freisler company'. Roland Freisler was president of the Volksgerichthof." (www.wams.de/data/2006/02/26/851744.html)

I know Erhard Arendt quite well. We have been in the Westfalenpark in Dortmund together and had visited each other when I was living in the nearby city of Hamm. He is very nice. When I had computer problems he often helped me. Not only do we share the internet profession, but both of us also paint. When I was in Erhard's apartment for the first time I was overwhelmed. He has found a whole world of his own, made of forms and colors, during his long time of creative output. Take a look at his light objects. When I first saw them I immediately wrote him a PR text, that was easy. And then there are his pictures and drawings, his wall reliefs and all the other objects, wow, really. For a long time he had also been teaching art. If there were no people like Erhard life in Germany would not be bearable. To suggest that he has something to do with Nazis or anti-Semites - on the basis of his care for Palestine - is not only rude nonsense, but a severe interference into his personal rights. It is, as if somebody calls Erich Fried a Nazi, if you know this man. It certainly may be that Herr Broder does not like the page about him that Erhard created, but this is about it. Can the tabloid Bildzeitung do anything against the existence of the page
www.bildblog.de? No. Can I go to a newspaper and say: do not write about me? No. And thank God for that. Bye bye critical culture, this would be. Back to the thirtees. In an interview, which I made with him two years ago, Erhard explains his internet engagement, among other things, like this:

"One of the motivations surely is the fact that I grew up in a city in which until the end of World War 2 prisoners of war had been confined to barracks under very disgraceful circumstances. An almost three-year-old boy, I stood at the window of our flat and saw a miserable mass of human beings, pleaing and begging, strangely dressed, being pushed along in front of the window where I stood. I still bear this inside of me until today. Later, the conscious digestion of the crimes in the nazi empire became another factor for decades. Born in 1941, I have not participated in these things, yet I had to learn to understand that, in fact, almost everybody around me had made themselves guilty by their silence, their not-seeing, not-wanting-to-know, co-guilty of crimes that had been committed. Out of the perception of the lie: 'WE DID NOT KNOW', I developed the consequence of a 'NEVER AGAIN', and also a: 'TO BE SILENT CAN BE A CRIME'." (The whole interview and photo: www.anis-online.de/1/orient-online/erhard.htm

Of course, Erhard and I are not always of the same opinion. Also in politics. He comes from the social democratic field, I from the liberal one. He was a member of the SPD, I was for a short time in the FDP, until I resigned from this party, because in my eyes it has completely failed and for a long time has nothing to do with the own principles anymore. I had to make this experience to understand that. Herr Koppelin, for example, I expected more from him. He always keeps himself so discreet in the background that one hardly notices him. In the meantime I am glad about that. But I digress.

It is regrettable that the political culture in Germany allows rich and influential people to threaten with lawsuits so easily in order to harm people about whom they feel uncomfortable. Even more so when the talk is about people like Erhard. The conventions of groups like "Honestly Good Guys" are reprehensible, too. There is too much of authoritarian behavior that human rights advocates have to take. This has little to do with democratic values. By the way, should you end in the opinion that Erhard is to be encouraged as a human being, as a journalist and as an artist, you can think about giving away one of his light objects as a Christmas present. Then you still have enough time to spare the money :-)

- "Only a Break in the War against Israel" -

(July 2, 2006) Recently, b. was successful in publishing an article on SPIEGEL Online. Congratulations! Like Rüdiger Göbel wrote yesterday in the newspaper "junge Welt": "With the demolition of the biggest power plant in the Gaza Strip in the beginning of the invasion on Wednesday the Israeli army hit the main-spring of the population. 'Without electricity the water pumps cannot work, the gasoline for generators is getting short, hospitals do not have enough medicine', Spiegel online, unsuspicious of sympathy for the Palestinians, summarizes the situation on the third day of the war." (Article: "Berlin approves of Israel's War of Aggression"). Unsuspicious of sympathy. Nicely put, isn't it? The commentary by Henryk M. Broder appeared on June 28, 2006, is called "Only a Break in the War Against Israel" and can be obtained at
www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,424012,00.html Subheading: "The treaty between Hamas and Fatah is once more stirring hope for peace in the Middle East. But the Palestinians do not seriously consider acknowledging Israel. There is nothing left to the Jewish State but to show rigor."

Does that remind you of something? I mean, you know b. a little by now, what do you think about the sentence: "There is nothing left to the Jewish State but to show rigor"? And this grotesquely exaggerated demand of "acknowledgment" and recognition? Does b. project his personal feelings and circumstances onto world politics here? Could be. For, as a matter of fact, Israel is not in need of any recognition anymore, the state is existing and even is allowed to do things no other state may do, like the killing of human beings openly on the street. So what is this continuing acknowledgment drama about? When will they ever be satisfied? And when will they intend to acknowledge others themselves, for a change? If this indeed is about Israel.

The first sentence sounds bizarre: "Once again the Palestinians are up to teaching the Israelis manners." Although I regret that the level of this study is sinking like that it appears logical that a discussion of his political opinion is part of the overall picture. "They have shown the Israelis the limits of their power." Who is he talking about? He writes himself: "Until now the Palestinians have fired home-made low-distance Kassam missiles from Gaza to Israel, which has been answered by the Israelis with 'targeted killings' in which, however, mostly innocent and uninvolved individuals lost their lives." Except that not "the Palestinians" are firing Kassam missiles, a revealing lapse. (No problem for SPIEGEL Online).

Broder is of the opinion that "the militant Palestinians" are concerned with "all or nothing" and that they only are after "control". The control has been with the Israelis for decades and if anybody in the region had not known what the meaning of control is, then he knew it ever since. Therefore, this passage can be understood as dealing with control fears (of whoever) and rather not with the analysis of political constellations. Broder continues, again from a different star: "If the Palestinians used only a fractional amount of the energies, that they invest in internal fights and 'acts of resistance', in the development of their country, the Westbank and Gaza would look differently." I think he does not even know any Palestinians, at all. The development of the country. He is writing that while the army of his fosterling is demolishing Gaza. This is why I think that possibly we can learn some details of b.'s inner life here. Let us continue listening.

"Like always in such moments, when the tunnel at the end of the light is approaching and coming closer, the passengers are becoming scared. The Europeans again are occupied with blandishing the situation." - We learn about a certain fear of peace. He is a bit embarrassed to talk about it and solves this or hushes it up with young students' humor: tunnel at the end of the light instead of: light at the end of the tunnel.

"Even after almost 40 years of occupation the Palestinians have not yet arrived in reality and still dream of a return to the status quo ante." - So it is the occupation that is demanded to be acknowledged, now I understand it a bit better. At first I thought that it was about Israel's "right of existence". But it is suggested here that the punishment or the pressure or the violence shall be acknowledged, so that in the end it can be stopped. Sounds like a crazy idea, I must say.

"The Palestinians indeed want a two-states-solution." - Well, many of the ones I know are for one state, because there is no other way to solve the problems of racism and of the refugees. I mean, Israel certainly is not a democratic state. It calls itself so, but it does not, for instance, accept the UN. The UN had said: when you comply with the resolutions we give you the membership. Israel said yes, got the membership, but has not complied with the resolutions until today. This is an example of why it is not a democratic state. Also, when a state kills people and occupies territories, when it builds a huge ghetto for Palestinians, it has lost its democratic legitimacy. A state has defined borders. In a democracy there are no racist laws. I have a lot of material on this subject, but we are here dealing with the commentary of Broder who possibly is presenting an unconscious account of the state of his soul.

"Israel has no other way at all than to demonstrate rigor, because every climb-down, every fallback will be imputed as weakness. Besides, the word 'compromise' is a foreign word in the Arab World. Either one asserts oneself or one will perish heroically." - Yawn.

"Thus a 'ceasefire' is the utmost concession of Hamas toward Israel, something which the European readily want to misconstrue as the first step of a recognition. It is only a tactical breather in the war against Israel." - Unfortunately, Israel broke the ceasefire. That had been a real chance. Might this be due to somebody's fear of peace? The "war", Broder is talking about, is waged by the Israelis. This is why they do not have defined borders, because they are still in the phase of "heroically eking them out". Just let the current WM™ euphoria remind you of the euphoria of 1967, when Israel had occupied the Westbank, Jerusalem and Gaza. So much for the subject "the war against Israel".

"The news about the new confrontation at the border from Gaza to Israel have to a great extend ousted the reports about the 'humanitarian catastrophe' threatening Gaza. Yet it would be important to know, where from a government, which is unable to feed the own population, takes the means to employ a new troop of 3000 men, to dress them and to arm them. And who is accoutering and paying the hyper-agile young men who wear masks in the face and bazookas over the shoulder, storming through the streets. Is this what the 'humanitarian catastrophe' looks like?" - It sounds like the fixation on the enemy to the complete exclusion of any kind of compassion. One can nicely see how cold-hearted the author shows himself in respect to the tragedy of the Palestinian population. The fears, about which he writes, are so central that everything else is covered in a veil of abstraction and is kept emotionally far. To count the Palestinian weapons, in view of the military super-power Israel, is evidence for things that belong to the realm of frenzy and for the apparently total lack of being able to see the own self as an agent and causer of things. Fear of existence, no doubt, it remains the question if and in how far it is justified and if it is justified what the actions are that may follow and what the ones are that may not follow.

Well, that was a rewarding commentary. Fine. Not especially relevant journalistically, but by all means revealing.

- Reactions -

(Monday, July 3, 2006) In the last week there were 646 clicks on the intro page, 315 on the first chapter and 127 on the second chapter. Here follow some reactions.

A journalist writes about the SPIEGEL Online article: "I am still put off by Broder's perpetual (self-) marking of "the Jewish" - like in 'The Jewish state...'. He will of course earn a certain feeling of solidarity obligation in many people, but at the same time he is damaging the overall issue, for this policy will then be conceived to be 'Jewish', which in the long run in term nourishes the image of the 'soandso Jew' - thus he is practising anti-Semitism."

"Hello, I am not sure if you want a feedback on our article, at all. I just read it and want to share my thoughts with you. Generally: if it was your aim to write a satire, then the whole thing - up to now - rather is a failure. Your article has been terribly tiring for me (please excuse my frankness). You are writing in the most beautiful conversational tone, but regrettably without any point and any recognizable meaning. What was it that attracted you so about Herr Broder, at all? What is your motivation? These questions seem to be clarified when one reads your review of Broder's Spiegel commentary. Differently from what you claim there one can read a lot about your inner self, not the one of Herr Broder. Your opinion about the Palestine conflict, which can be read between the lines, by the way is notedly one-sided and possibly biased by a personal sympathy for one of the two conflicting parties. I can only guess here. The alternatives are that you do not have much knowledge of the subject matter or that you have enjoyed very one-sided sources of information. Concerning the contents of your review I do not want to say more - which advantage could you have from my point-of-view of the Palestine conflict? Rather none. Yet I think that you should reconsider the things that you have articulated. At least, going through a commentary sentence by sentence is most - well, how can I put it, "cheap" is the best word I can come up with. If this is your form of satire then we will have a different conception of the meaning of this word. Your annotations are very aggressive here, by the way, quite in contrast to the rest of your article which is much too long in my view. Therefore I thought that it rather reveals something about your inner life. Well, so much for now, best regards from a sporadic reader of your website who is unknown to you."

On the homepage of the journalist Daniel Reitzig
www.danielreitzig.de one can find the following article: "June 29, 2006, Media: 'Even after almost 40 years of occupation not yet arrived in reality'. People like to read this author. Not only, because he clings to his convictions. Journalist Henryk Broder in his SPIEGEL commentary believes the Palestinians will not be able to keep peace for long. Basically, they would still mourn the 'status quo ante'. And would meanwhile approach the wrong frontiers. 'If the Palestinians used only a fractional amount of the energies, that they invest in internal fights and 'acts of resistance', in the development of their country, the Westbank and Gaza would look differently', writes Broder. A couple of hours later the Israeli army announced to have - among other things - bombed the only power plant in the Gaza Strip as a retaliation for the kidnapping of a soldier. The energy and water supply are said to be interrupted for the time being. To come back to Broder: an interesting attempt to approach him is carried out by the author Anis Hamadeh. In his 'Meet the Press 4' Hamadeh takes a satirical-critical look at the journalist who is living in Berlin. Broder himself presents himself and his work on his homepage."

"I hope writing it has been as satisfying for you as reading it has been for me."

"By the way... Broder's complete name is: Henryk Modest Broder, see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henryk_M._Broder"

"Ingenious and delicious!"

"Dear Anis, you do, if I understood correctly, also collect memories of HB's years of learning and of travel. In this category belongs that about 35 years ago he had a column in the magazine 'Pardon' - if I remember it correctly? - in which he used the known 'heads of the classics' as a hallmark. Marx, Engels, Lenin and as number four in the row Henryk Broder. Thus there must have been a time when he had some self-irony - or, one cannot exclude it, he seriously meant it this way. Broder, who even in these days had his conflicts with the judiciary, in the first half of the seventies cooperated with - among others - the Antifa commission of our Communist Federation and with our monthly Arbeiterkampf. A fear of contact set in only later. And then suddenly came the moment - was it in 1976 after Entebbe or some time earlier? - when Broder announced that he could not stand to live in Germany anymore and that he would emigrate to the land of his destiny, Israel. Yet, he did not make it to stay there for long. There in that time he wrote his best reports on the subject Israel-Palestinians. Quite natural, if you consider the structure of his psyche: he likes to annoy his surroundings, he provokes and swims against the current. In this way, he becomes an Israel critic when in Israel."

"Had you not written it one would wish to read similar things."

A journalist: "I admire Anis for his tactfulness and skilled irony. I wished I had only some per cent of it."

The journalist with the story I am forbidden to publish, writes: "That he is jerking around like that and even threatening people, instead of just saying: 'Hey guys, this was 30 years ago, all this is not even real anymore. Did you never make mistakes?' - Apparantly, there is a lack of real self-awareness. He reminds me of a child that does not want to be caught and that gets more and more trapped in a shaky building of lies. It is through this that this very old story gains a certain meaning."

"Hello Anis, so you want to concern yourself with this Broder - he will be glad about it. I think one should not even deal with him... He is not worth it, the way he treats others...."

"I like your Broder texts very much. You encounter him in a form that you define and not he. One is curious to read on."

"Dear Anis, for your debate with b I wish you much success - and enough power of mind in order to beat b WITHOUT using his own weapons. On his homepage, the letter by his friend Abi Melzer intrigues me. At a closer glance b seems to write a persiflage on himself: www.henryk-broder.de/schmock_der_woche/ Please keep me informed :) Regards from Berlin. P.S.: your series about b is still fascinating me. Keep up with it!"

- Anis Gets into Reading -

(July 3, 2006) At
www.henryk-broder.de/tagebuch/anis.html in the rubric "Endmost" you can find a contribution from which I quote here. Title: "Anis Gets into Reading".

"I know, one cannot choose his admirers. Still I find I have deserved something better. At first, there was Mr. or Ms. K. (name canceled, AH), who became absorbed in me. Then came my old friend Abi Melzer, the greatest publisher of all times, who harrassed me under the pseudonym Helga Melzer. Subsequently an idiot called O.K. (name canceled, AH) from Potsdam, who made a fuss about everything he read from me on achgut. And now it is Anis Hamadeh, the poet, painter and musician who is world-famous in Mainz. As the carnival season has not et begun in Mainz, he kicks up his heels for a start and writes me an email: Hello Herr Broder, I continue to observe your behavior towards critics... (text known, AH)".

"This menace has almost nailed up my weekend in Reykjavik, but it got even better. Anis Hamadeh asked me to help him with the research about me: "Salamaat, the thing is that I received an unexpectedly quick answer on today's update. I think I will publish the part below, from QUOTE on, on the way. Meaning in the near future. It is not exactly early enough in historic terms, but a beginning. Are there any schoolfellows of yours I could consult, or relatives? I hope to be able to meet your expectations furthermore. Regards, Anis.'"

This is followed by the publication of the forbidden story - that in the meantime has lost its attraction to me - and a response. Then: "Now I only wait that Hamadeh finds out that I was sentenced to a fine of 3.ooo,- Marks for insulting a judge (V.H.S., name canceled, AH) by a court in Cologne, also at the end of the 70s. If he finds anything about the case in the Neues Deutschland."

He spoke again, wow.

- Rupert Neudeck -

(July 4, 2006) Yesterday I met Rupert Neudeck. He is a human rights advocate and became known in Germany and abroad with his "Cap Anamur" project. Herr Neudeck held a lecture about Palestine at the Uni Mainz and presented his new book: "I don't want to be silent anymore. About Justice and Justness in Palestine. With a Foreword by Norbert Blüm". The lecture was moving. In front of the door there were some young people who distributed flyers with the title: "Prevent the interested conversation with anti-Semites! Against the lecture of Rupert Neudeck at the Uni Mainz." After two pages of text I found these slogans on the bottom: "Avert anti-Semitism! Deprive Germany of its right of existence! Solidarity with Israel!" It is signed by a "Working Group Antifa Mainz". I talked with the people and asked them what all this was about. Yes, I was told, Israel is the successor of the victims of the Holocaust and Hamas wants to drive the Jews into the sea...

You can find these people on about every Palestine event. In Kiel it was the group "Weapons for Israel"
1, see www.verteidigt-israel.de. They wanted to prevent a movie. They have linked the Israeli embassy on their frontpage and they write about their aims: "We are in solidarity with the State of Israel without any ifs and buts. And therefore our solidarity also is with the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces). Without its army Israel would be destroyed long ago. In the spirit of these ideas we - in the small and in the big - seek to change the perceptions of the citizens in Germany and of politics." Years ago I had cautioned the citizens of Kiel, but they did not want to listen. So there are such groups in Mainz, too. They are mixing up the victims of the genocide with a government. This, by the way, was one of the main subjects of Neudeck.

After the lecture we sat in the biergarten and for a xouple of minutes I was almost alone with Herr Neudeck. He strongly reminds of Uri Avnery. Both from the external appearance and contentwise. Yes, he said smiling, he had people coming up to him in Palestine and Israel who asked whether he was Uri. "And there you said: almost", I asked and both of us had to laugh.

Oh yes, Broder... He started to recount. In former times he used to have closer contact with Broder for a while. He used to be very good, very talented. He praised Broder's abilities. That astonished me. At one point then, said Neudeck, Broder had changed. There was a breakup.

I ask myself what exactly happened then. Several people talk about this turning-point in the life of b. Maybe he wants to give us some information himself? Maybe we can ask him, as he is so open minded. Or will he take it as a menace again? Did you see how he wrote I had menaced him? Did you also see how he put me into a row with people who have nothing to do with me? First there is A, then B, C, D and now Anis. What have I got to do with his biography? I only know him since New Year's Eve. And what is the meaning of the fact that he threatened to sue me for a text that subsequently he publishes himself in its entirety? Without, by the way, being able to refute it in the least.

Of course I do not want to nail up Reykjavik for anybody. How should I have known? He asked me in written form to begin the satire earlier. Reykjavik... Fischer against Spasski, 1972. Do you know the book about this chess world championship? Not? Strongly to be recommended, a true thriller. And really funny, too.

More in Chapter 3 >>

1: A worried reader wrote me on September 2, 2006: "In this context I want to note the following: in Kiel there has never been a group 'weapons for Israel'. You probably mean the 'Initiative Defend Israel', to the obsolete homepage of which you refer. Current site: verteidigtisrael.blogsport.de. To rename a group, the name of which can clearly be derived from the link, in a striking way, not 'an ingenious idea' to formulate the position, which you criticize 'a little sharper', not to say 'forge'? The question arises whether in other contexts, too, about which you write, pictured in a similarly precise way." (Anis: Thanx, never mind the grammar)