Menu JTA Search

German writer to fight demotion

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A German political writer is planning to fight a professional demotion over his one-sided, anti-Israel invective.

Ludwig Watzal, the former editor at the magazine Politics and Contemporary History of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, or BPB, has retained a labor attorney and is planning to fight the decision to change his function at the agency, JTA has learned.

An agency spokesman told JTA the agency has not received any official notification of a lawsuit.

The latest change in Watzal’s job status came as an apparent compromise after some critics called for him to be dismissed over what they deemed extreme anti-Israel positions that contradicted the federal agency’s mandate.

For example, in a 2004 article titled “An Israelization of the World?” Watzal wrote that “If the USA further Israelizes its domestic and foreign policy, conflicts a la Palestine will become globalized.”

In March, the Jewish Community of Berlin and the Coordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organizations Against Anti-Semitism appealed to Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, to intervene. Also speaking out against Watzal were the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as well as a German member of Parliament, Gert Weisskirchen of the Social Democratic Party.

Essentially a demotion, effective in July, Watzal now is responsible for researching educational Web sites for possible funding. He makes no policy decisions related to the Middle East, according to a BPB spokesperson.

Watzal’s attorney, Hubert Minz, said he could not comment on the case without permission from his client. Watzal did not return a telephone call or an e-mail message.

Watzal has been barred for several years from writing about the Middle East for the agency’s publications and from participating in fact-finding missions to the region. But Watzal continues to write on the topic on the side, which some observers say reflects poorly on the BPB.

NEXT STORY