Haaretz, a daily newspaper that used to be considered liberal, must now be regarded as having leftist views. Leading journalists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass are not the only ones, but they are certainly the most famous in German speaking countries. In Tachles, the last remaining Jewish weekly in the German speaking part of Switzerland, Levy is given two or three pages where he can spread his political anti-Israel incongruities several times a year. Tachles readers will be thankful to Yves Kugelmann, shareholder and editor in chief of this shallow leaflet. Any critical and balanced debate about Israel and Judaism was forsaken when the name was changed from „Israelitisches Wochenblatt“ [Jewish Weekly] to „Tachles“.
Back to Haaretz. It was founded in 1919 under the name „Chadashot min Haaretz“ (News from the Land (Israel)), but the first part of its history ended in 1922 when the newspaper was discontinued. This time it was Zionists from Berlin who acquired the ailing paper, continuing its operation as a cooperative. In 1933, when Hitler seized power, it was turned into a partnership.
Salman Schocken, a Zionist and journalist, lived by the motto: „The return to Jewish values and traditions means self-assertion“. In 1934 he emigrated, at first to Palestine, where in 1937 he bought Haaretz, thereby laying the cornerstone for the Haaretz group. In 1940 he emigrated to the USA.
Between 1939 and 1990, his son Gershom Schocken was editor in chief of Haaretz. He described the paper as being independent of all parties and considered it as being politically situated at the center-left of the liberal spectrum. After his death, Amos Schocken became editor.
Though the circulation of the printed versions (English and Hebrew) is very small and the readership in 2015 was only between 4.6% and 5.8%, Haaretz is considered to be one of the most important newspapers in the world. Regrettably, a few years ago a tough „pay wall“ was set up that prevents reading even the latest news articles shortly after their publication.
Does this mean that this is a normal paper with normal owners?
Until the year 2006 the Schocken family was the sole owner of the Haaretz Group. With the help of the former Israel ambassador to Germany, Avi Primor, a deal was set up with the German editing group DuMont Schauberg, who bought 25% of the Haaretz Group.
In 2011, Leonid Nevzelin acquired 20%, 15% from the Schocken Family and 5% from DuMont Schauberg. Since then, the founding family owns 60% of the shares, while Nevzelin and DuMont Schauberg own 20%.
To this day the sale to the publishing company DuMont Schauberg is not without controversy in Israel. Kurt Neven DuMont, the company founder’s son, joined the publishing house in 1927. Since 1805, among others. they had been publishing the Kölnische Zeitung (sic). After initially maintaining a center-right policy, their orientation adopted national socialistic influences even before 1933, strictly following the party line, and on January 1st, 1933 they wrote: In the course of 1933 Hitler will have to decide whether to remain at the gates of politics as an idolized leader, even the martyr of a congregation, or whether he is prepared to assume responsibilities and throw his movement’s positive forces onto the scale pan of practical politics. In the interests of a national stabilization, one would like to hope that Hitler will opt for the second path“.
The Adolf-Hitler-Spende der deutschen Wirtschaft (German Economy Donation for Adolf-Hitler) that was initiated in June 1933 by leading major industrialists, was obligatory for any enterprise. The contribution to be paid was 5 thousandths of the total wage costs and until 1945 it brought in an amount of 700 million Reichsmark. Based on 2008 calculations, the buying power of a Reichsmark would be equal to today’s 3.10 Euro. The donation was initiated in order to improve the bond between the economic sector and the NSDAP. In fact it was the Führer’s „allowance ad usum proprium“ . The DuMont Enterprise’s yearly contribution was between 5,000 and 6,500 RM.
Kurt Neven DuMont had joined the NSDAP in 1937. As opposed to other renowned newspaper publishing houses, he succeeded as it were under the direct protection of the Reich’s Propaganda Ministry, to keep his publishing house active and unmolested until the end of the war. His early opportunistic attitude helped the Kölnische Zeitung to achieve glory and honor; it was the figurehead that was to prove to the world how free and unhindered German journalism was blooming in the midst of the darkest lack of freedom of opinion.
Anti-Semitic tendencies became apparent at an early stage. In 1816 the newspaper insert advertised an anti-Semitic book edited in their publishing house. „In their present state, they (the Jews) are luxuriant plants that are sucking dry the power of the State by proliferating and by profiteering from the advantages they were recently granted, spreading disaster upon the countries, becoming extremely dangerous for the inhabitants‘ morality, who at the same time are being impoverished by them“.
Whether the DuMont family, either directly or indirectly, got rich from the acquisition of Jewish property, is a question which Der Spiegel wanted to elucidate in 2006. Apparently they were not able to provide sufficient evidence for their argumentation, and they lost in the lawsuit against the plaintiff DuMont family.
On its Swiss Facebook page, the New Israel Fund (NIF) corroborates: „Also in Switzerland – we are Israel“ and underwent a “media” lifting on the occasion of its 20th European anniversary. The contents that seem to be considered important by NIF are imparted in a short and concise manner: „Yes, out of love for Israel“ and „Yes to peaceful dialog“ „Yes to responsible resource management“ – slogans with which any healthy person who loves Israel can definitely identify. Since its foundation in the USA in 1979, it has been stating that it stands for the pursuit of democracy, respect and social justice in Israel, all this being fully in line with the founders of the Zionist State. Their aim was to grant all citizens, regardless of their origin and religion, the same social and political rights. As codified in the foundation charter of May 14, 1948 after many discussions: „It will guarantee equal social and political rights to all citizens, indiscriminately of religion, race and gender“.
In other words, if the aims of the State of Israel and NIF are identical, one can be easy in one’s mind and make donations or even establish bequests. The money will find the path to the correct and desirable channels! But is this really the case?
By its own admission, NIF has allocated more than 200 million dollars to over eight hundred ground breaking civil rights organizations.
NIF has been named as donor by the following NGOs:
- Btselem the very organization which among others provided state of the art video recorders to radical Palestinian women in several villages preparing to demonstrate. Every Friday, the village women and children go to the border fence to demonstrate against the „Israeli occupation“. If only this were all! A family from the Tamimi clan has been regularly exploiting their children. It started with Ahed Tamimi (who became famous on the Internet as Shirley Temper) who shouted and tried with her whole then 12 year old body to unsettle an IDF soldier. Before she retired after having become too old to appear as the star child of the resistance, Presidents Erdogan and Abbas hastened to give her a superstar reception. Her role has been meanwhile taken over by her younger sister and brother. Btselem also provided Jewish activists with cameras that are now daily lying in wait at the main checkpoints around Jerusalem and are filming every car during rush hour. You never know when something exciting may happen, and then they would have authentic material that can be used against Israel.
- Breaking the Silence has also been enjoying a considerable yearly contribution from NIF. The fact that the BtS activists have meanwhile been banned from all military facilities does nothing to change the damage caused during the past years. In its anonymous reports, BtS follows a single objective: undermining the IDF’s integrity and accusing Israel of regularly committing war crimes. As if it were not extremely important to the government to investigate down to the last detail any crime committed against Palestinians and/or Arabs and to punish the culprits accordingly. The best example is the present trial concerning an incident where Elor Azaria is accused of having shot to death an already defenseless terrorist on March 23 in Hebron. Btselem’s cameras seem to bring evidence of the event; the witnesses are still not in agreement. In 2015 a documentary exhibition by BtS took place in the Helferei in Zurich. The corresponding exhibition in Cologne which was planned within the framework of „50 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel“ was cancelled.
- Rabbis for Human Rights an organization founded 1988 by Rabbi Arik Asherman, is dedicated to the goal of always and in every case strengthening the Palestinian cause. Whether by human armor protecting the Palestinians‘ olive trees from being looted or destroyed by Jewish settlers, or helping in legal cases in court, or by resisting against the demolition of illegally built houses. His appeals to Palestinians to resist (Israeli) State authority are signs of his quintessentially anti-Israeli bias.
Those three examples aim at raising the issue whether the NGO’s supported by NIF in Israel are really „pioneering civil rights organizations“. They evidently left the Zionist idea far behind.
So now they have met, not for the first time, but the first time in Zurich. NIF Switzerland has launched an invitation to a panel discussion under the title „Is Israel’s democracy in danger?“
Location of the event:
Day 1: Helferei
Over the years, the Helferei in Zurich has positioned itself as a platform for those who, to put it mildly, have little or no pro-Israeli attitudes. Moshe Zuckermann, who is still listed as professor for history and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, appeared here several times. He is not only harsh and offensive in his criticism of the State of Israel, he goes even further. He vehemently defends the „symbolic right of return“ of up to 400,000 displaced Palestinians to the core of the country as a first step. Later, as per his vision, Israel and the future State of Palestine would exist as an entity with a confederated structure. BtS was here, as described before. Now it is the NIF’s turn.
Its president, Talia Sasson, former judge at the Israeli Superior Court and later for a short while legal advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, defines herself as a Zionist and sees only one possibility in the long run to save democracy in Israel. She accuses the Israeli Government of any possible failure.
She counts the incumbent ambassador of Israel in Switzerland, Jacob Keidar, as a member of the Government. Having been accredited in Switzerland only a few weeks ago, according to the invitation he was supposed to greet the participants of the main event, but he cancelled his appearance. To Sasson this is the occasion for a snide remark: „By withdrawing his commitment he also removed the question mark from the event’s title“. She would now not have to prove a thing on Sunday, the Government’s official representative having by his very action confirmed the bad state of Israel’s democracy and tolerance“. I am deeply grateful that the ambassador did not agree to be manipulated by a thoroughly anti-Israeli event. His participation would have sent the wrong signal.
Day 2: Community Center of the Jewish Community Zurich (ICZ)
Conducted by Daniel Eisner, Radio SRF News , a discussion will take place with the participation of:
Amos Schocken and Talia Sasson whom I have already introduced.
Some readers may know Carmi Gillon from the movie „The Gatekeepers“ (in the unfortunate German translation „Töte zuerst“ (kill first). He is one of a group of former chiefs of Shin Bet – the Israeli Inland Intelligence Service – who spoke very subjectively about their professional experiences. Why subjectively? The movie does not give any substantiation, nor any justification, why any of the apparently drastic actions were of vital importance for Israel.
Yulia Zemlinsky, an activist of the group „Our legacy“ (Morashtenu) is not at all concerned by Palestinian needs. Her target group are Russian immigrants, who she deems having observed are not integrated enough in Israeli society. The chasm she sees between the Russians and the State of Israel is threatening in her opinion. Its origins, she says, are to be found in racism and xenophobia, thereby reflecting Israeli society as a whole. This is not true. Besides Hebrew and Arabic, Russian is developing more and more as Israel’s third official language. Many official forms exist in three languages. No wonder that NIF appears as donor here again.
Yves Kugelmann, High Guru of Jewish media in Switzerland, could not absent himself from this event. It would have been exciting to experience the manner in which he introduces his streamlined and leveled – we may call it opportunistic – opinion into this circle.
It should be noted that the event took place in premises rented from ICZ, who was not otherwise involved in planning and realizing the event. It was a propaganda action organized by NIF and Haaretz.
Incidentally: the NIF event planned in Berlin was cancelled.
All information about the DuMont Publishing House, the Schocken and DuMont families, if not otherwise indicated, was taken from Wikipedia, which provided sufficient information in this case.
Additional detailed and well documented information about NIF can be found here, background information about the book bearing the same title by Edwin Black http://www.financingtheflames.com/ and here http://www.ngo-monitor.org/
©Esther Scheiner, Israel
Translated from the German original by Translations International, Herzliya, Israel