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Sascha Lobo on the Documenta scandal: Welcome to Antisemita

2022-06-22T11:06:08.857Z

There is broad acceptance of anti-Semitism in Germany. Whether you consider yourself conservative, liberal or left-wing: a little hatred of Jews is apparently okay.



Enlarge image

The work of the artist collective Taring Padi in Kassel was dismantled on Tuesday.

Photo: IMAGO/Peter Hartenfelser / IMAGO/Hartenfelser

The most important German art exhibition »antisemita fifteen« has been taking place in Kassel for a few days, sorry, the »documenta fifteen« of course.

But art has taken a back seat because an anti-Semitism debate is raging around the Documenta.

The way this discussion is conducted is significant.

Because here one of the biggest, if not the biggest, of the current problems with anti-Semitism in Germany is revealed.

It is a broad, middle-class acceptance of anti-Semitism by people, regardless of whether they consider themselves conservative, liberal, enlightened or left-wing, with the guiding principle: a little hatred of Jews is okay.

The Documenta is the responsibility of people who accept hatred of Jews as part of art and debate.

All they need is an excuse, however cloudy and outrageous it may seem.

And because anti-Semitism has always been closely intertwined with the art of the most absurd excuses as to why hatred is justified or even necessary, hatred of Jews and acceptance of hatred of Jews blur into an anti-Semitic amalgam.

With very concrete consequences in the form of a now notorious work by an Indonesian artist collective that was initially exhibited at the Documenta.

Among other things, it shows: A troop of soldiers marching over skeletonized corpses, one has a pig's head, "Mossad" is written on his helmet, and a Star of David is emblazoned on his neckerchief.

A devil,

who laughs in the face of this march with a distorted grimace and wears a Star of David on his chest.

A suspicious-looking figure with bloodshot eyes, vampire fangs, a hooked nose, sidelocks, a kippah-style cap and a hat emblazoned with the "SS" runes.

There is no interpretation according to which this is not anti-Semitic, regardless of the perspective, in which country, in which context: This is artistic Jew hatred in its purest form at the Documenta;

to claim anything else is antisemitism-accepting babble.

No matter from which perspective, in which country, in which context: This is artistic Jew hatred in its purest form at the Documenta;

to claim anything else is antisemitism-accepting babble.

No matter from which perspective, in which country, in which context: This is artistic Jew hatred in its purest form at the Documenta;

to claim anything else is antisemitism-accepting babble.

The complex of excuses used by those responsible on the curatorial and artistic side is typical of the current debates, it comes under the cloak of alleged cultural differences.

The Documenta management published a written reaction quoting the Indonesian artist collective: »... The first presentation of the banner in a European and German context.

It is in no way related to anti-Semitism.

We are saddened that details of this banner are understood differently than their original purpose.« This means that the artistic collective does not have the slightest insight.

A pig and a devil with a Star of David, a vampire with sidelocks: From an Indonesian point of view, that is not anti-Semitic, only from a German point of view.

This is grotesque nonsense, because unfortunately anti-Semitism is universal, and such blatant anti-Semitism does not necessarily need trained specialists to decipher it.

Incidentally, there has been little discussion so far that the anti-Semitic poster has the slogan “The Expansion of “multicultural” state hegemony” written in huge letters on a skull’s cap.

In this one can clearly see a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory, according to which any form of cultural mixing should be combated.

that on the anti-Semitic poster the slogan “The expansion of “multicultural” state hegemony” is written in huge letters on a skull’s cap.

In this one can clearly see a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory, according to which any form of cultural mixing should be combated.

that on the anti-Semitic poster the slogan “The expansion of “multicultural” state hegemony” is written in huge letters on a skull’s cap.

In this one can clearly see a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory, according to which any form of cultural mixing should be combated.

The statement of the collective then refers to the now outdated sham solution of the cover: »As a sign of respect and with great regret, we cover the corresponding work, which in this special context in Germany is felt to be offensive.« Again, one acts as if the deeply anti-Semitic imagery "felt as offensive" only in Germany, which shifts responsibility from the artists to the audience with this strange, regional misperception.

This view is already detonated in the run when very clear assessments come from Jewish Israelis, as well as from a multitude of experts.

But she appeals to one of the more recent excuses, which, under the extremely vague catchphrase »Global South«, describes the real problems of colonialism,

Racism and Eurocentrism misused to justify anti-Semitism.

But human rights are to be understood universally, which is why there cannot and must not be any cultural concessions to misanthropy.

There is no culture in which anti-Semitism would be okay.

Just as there is no culture in which hatred of women, racism, homophobia and transphobia or hostility towards the disabled would be acceptable.

Or dictatorship, because the Chinese government uses exactly these justification complexes to justify its tyranny: They are pursuing a "Chinese-style democracy" because the original democracy is a colonial concept that they want to impose on China.

Criticism of supposedly cultural perspectives, but in fact misanthropic attitudes, is instrumentally labeled as colonial or racist, so that the well-meaning public is shyed away or pushed into acceptance.

In western debates it has become a gateway to misanthropy to abuse the rightly existing bad conscience,

to make other prejudices socially acceptable.

Only in this way can another artistic propaganda slinger at the same documenta seriously equate Israel with Nazi Germany in their art.

Which is a belittlement of the Holocaust, demonization of Israel and therefore anti-Semitic through and through.

The fact that the Indonesian artists' collective knows with perfidious accuracy which buttons to press in the very white art landscape can be seen in their impudence at the end: »The work now becomes a monument of grief over the impossibility of dialogue at this moment.

We hope that this memorial can now be the starting point for a new dialogue.« You have to think again: That's what people say who proudly have a pig with a Star of David built into their artwork.

The artist collective understands dialogue to mean that their hatred of Jews is kindly accepted and one can continue talking from there.

It is as if the murderer were sitting on the corpse and would now demand that his special situation in life be recognized first.

No bro, too late.

But the management of the Documenta created a beacon of acceptance of anti-Semitism by not only allowing the group and the work of art, but initially considering the covering to be the only serious consequence.

Logically, if you don't see the work itself as the problem, but the reaction of the overly sensitive audience.

To make it even worse, a very white, very German perspective is not to take the anti-Semitism of those affected by racism really seriously, but to glorify it as a culture-specific peculiarity.

The sociologist Armin Nassehi tweeted: »The global southern kitsch and the business-like bad conscience of this art-organizing milieu doesn't take people from Asia, Palestine, etc. seriously, just because they don't look closely here.

It's a colonial gesture, not criticism of trash."

One could have known all this, no: had to.

Not only associations, but also a number of media, above all the »Welt«, reported in advance about the well-known participants in the Documenta and about the treacherous absence of Israelis.

The fear of an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic coloring of the art show was repeatedly expressed.

The reaction was not particularly great at first, because when Axel Springer deals with the media, the accusation of particularly “Israel-friendly”, not to say “Jew-friendly” reporting resonates – uttered behind closed doors – because the company violates Israel’s right to exist in its enshrined guiding principles.

That's why Axel Springer sees anti-Semitism everywhere, is an often whispered allegation.

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Central to this shift is an acceptance of anti-Semitism that sees hatred of Jews as an acceptable misanthropy.

The many warnings over weeks and weeks did not come out of nowhere.

For example, they referred to the BDS affinity of some artists (BDS is the anti-Semitic movement that boycotts, sanctions and probably would like to destroy Israel).

If you bring in people like that, you get exactly what has now exploded in the hands of the organizers: hatred of Jews with decorative ribbons.

And yet not only those responsible for Documenta, but also part of the media and the indirectly co-financing Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth dismissed any concerns.

Working through the Jew-hate debacle must include admitting these mistakes and learning from them: Anyone who invites anti-Semites will reap an “art fair of shame” (“BILD” newspaper), the anti-Semita fifteen.

Either the relevant anti-Semitism acceptors learn from it, publicly and comprehensibly.

Or they can smear their dearly meant "never again" commemoration in their BDS hair next time.

Source: spiegel

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