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German Jews push for government firing

Germany’s Jewish leaders asked the interior minister to intervene against a federal employee they accuse of anti-Semitic writings.

A letter to Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said that an employee of the Federal Agency for Civic Education has “crossed the boundary” of anti-Semitism with his statements on Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban.

The letter came from the Jewish Community of Berlin and the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism.

Another letter was sent to Schaeuble from the Central Council of Jews in Germany suggests that the employee, Ludwig Watzal, should not be working for a federal agency, and asks the minister to “set an example.”

The Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed to JTA that the letters arrived March 27. The minister will respond this month.

In a 2004 article entitled, “An Israelization of the World?” Watzal implied that attacks on civilians can be justified: “If the USA further Israelizes its domestic and foreign policy, conflicts a la Palestine will become globalized.”

In March, Watzal published a statement in his own defense, including one entitled, “Tricks, Manipulations and Defamations,” in which he refers to a “newly planned defamation campaign against me by anti-German and neo-conservative extremists, with the goal of destroying my career.”

The Anti-Defamation League has also involved itself in the fray with a letter to Watzal’s boss, Thomas Kruger. The ADL said that Watzal’s comments are anti-Semitic according to the definition published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

According to that definition, anti-Semitism “could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

One member of parliament, Gert Weisskirchen, agrees with the critics, saying that Watzal’s comment “crosses the line.”

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