German gov’t ripped for absence of Jews on anti-Semitism panel
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German gov’t ripped for absence of Jews on anti-Semitism panel

BERLIN (JTA) — Jewish activists are blasting Germany’s Interior Ministry for failing to appoint Jewish experts to its Commission on Anti-Semitism.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, several groups said they would establish their own expert commission.

The fact that no Jewish expert was appointed is “an unprecedented scandal,” Julius Schoeps, founding director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European Jewish Studies in Potsdam, said in the statement.

The Interior Ministry established the commission in August 2009 with rotating membership following a Bundestag resolution the previous year. The new set of eight experts, including scholars and educators, met for the first time on Jan. 19.

Schoeps, the only Jewish member of the original panel, said the parliament and interior minister should have to explain why they apparently did not consider it valuable this time to include experts and advisers of Jewish background, or representatives from Jewish organizations and communities.

“No one would ever propose setting up a conference on hatred of Islam without Muslims, or a roundtable on discrimination against women with no woman present,” Anetta Kahane, head of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.

Kahane is joining with Schoeps and the American Jewish Committee in Berlin, under its director, Deidre Berger, to form their own Expert Commission on Anti-Semitism, with both Jewish and non-Jewish experts from Germany and elsewhere. According to a statement, the new panel will meet in March.

The government commission’s mandate is to report regularly on anti-Semitism and efforts to combat it in Germany, to make recommendations based on best practices, and consult with other experts.

Though its first extensive report was issued in 2011, “there has yet to be a serious confrontation with the ideas and suggestions” contained therein, said Stephan Kramer, AJC’s representative on anti-Semitism in Europe.

”It is not enough to fight against anti-Semitism at solidarity rallies and by making declarations in memorial speeches,” Kramer said.