Features Australia

The new censorship

4 November 2017

9:00 AM

4 November 2017

9:00 AM

One thing thoughtful members of my generation were, I think, unquestioning about was this: democratic West Germany had thoroughly repudiated Nazism. The great writer Bernard Levin said how much reason the Germans had to be proud that their democracy was so young and so strong.

Of course, as elsewhere, there is a handful of right extremists – forlorn and pathetic, pimply losers, misfits and probable virgins who like dressing up, but who, frankly, as a rule seldom did real harm.

In fact, if there was reason to be annoyed at Germany, it was its cultural wetness. After a spate of sex attacks by Muslim asylum-seekers, German girls paraded under a banner reading RAPISTS WELCOME. Police issued women with running shoes to give them a better chance when fleeing the attentions of asylum seekers.

But it seems the times they are a- changin’. No, this is not an attack on the Alternative für Deutschland Party, which has up till now done little or nothing to merit the abuse hurled at it and which seems less an enemy of Israel than are certain others, such as the Government-supported ‘Non-Governmental Organisations’ that fund Gaza and Lebanon-based rocket-attacks and terrorist tunnels, or the BDS campaign, aimed at destroying Israel’s legitimacy, and ultimately, its existence.

AfD is at loggerheads with the far-right National Democratic Party which does contain some real neo-Nazis, and goes in for things like anti-Semitic rock music. An AfD speaker who made a statement that could possibly but not certainly be taken as anti-Semitic was promptly expelled. It is a nationalist, Eurosceptic, right-centre populist party, fed up with the political classes and not far from the Brexiteers, the Tea Party and voters for Trump or the new-model Pauline Hanson.

The threat is coming from much higher up the political ladder. At Wuppertal a few weeks ago a court discharged without penalty Arabs who had burnt down a synagogue. The court’s rationale for its decision was that the burning was a political protest over the Israeli occupation of the territories seized in the 1967 war, and was not motivated by anti-Semitism. Hitler is presumably laughing in Hell. If I were a German Jew I would, after that little episode, make sure my passport was up to date, and that I had money in a safe place overseas.

Police and courts – as the Wuppertal case and others throughout the West show, are increasingly taking on the role of judges of values and opinions, and questionable ones at that.

The anti-Semitic, totalitarian venom can be addictive. Germany has now taken a big step towards criminalising criticism of Islam.

A new law introducing state censorship on German social media platforms came into effect on October 1. This law requires Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. to censor their users on behalf of the German state.

They are obliged to delete or block any online ‘criminal offenses’ such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint – regardless of whether the substance of the complaint is accurate or not.

Social media companies receive seven days for more complicated cases. If they fail to remove or block the content, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law, which Germany wants to see copied by the rest of the EU.

In other words, employees of private media companies must now act as censors on behalf of the state.

Given the history of Germany, it would indeed be possible to approve the censorship of anti-Semitism. In fact, I would approve of it and have advocated it – we have seen what it leads to and Israel’s deadly enemies have enormous wealth for propaganda.

But the whole direction of the new censorship is not against Jews but against that phantom thing called ‘Islamophobia’ – meaning any criticism of Islam however reasonable or justified.

Lawyer and columnist Judith Bergman writes: ‘This state censorship makes free speech subject to the arbitrary decisions of corporate entities that are likely to censor more than absolutely necessary, rather than risk a crushing fine.’

A court in Munich recently sentenced a journalist, Michael Stürzenberger, to six months in jail for posting on his Facebook page a historical photo of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, shaking hands with a swastika-bedecked Nazi official in Berlin in 1941.

The prosecution accused Stürzenberger of ‘inciting hatred towards Islam’ and ‘denigrating Islam’ by publishing the photograph. The court found Stürzenberger guilty of ‘disseminating the propaganda of anti-Constitutional organisations.’

But who were those ‘organisations’? And if one man can be prosecuted for this, surely the whole profession of History teaching, once Germany’s pride, is again in the gun sights.

The close relationship of the Grand Mufti and the Nazis is an historical fact beyond dispute – he is even said to have visited a concentration camp and made some friendly suggestions as to how its operations could be improved. Although accounts are conflicting, common sense says that he both knew of and approved of the Holocaust. Six months in jail – and any prison sentence is a life sentence, never entirely shaken off – for posting a historic picture of the Muslin Nazi alliance against the Jews! How far is this from Nazi book burning?

While purportedly concerned about all ‘hate speech’, the EU Parliament allowed its premises to be used to host one of the worst Arab terrorists, Leila Khaled, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at a conference on ‘The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle’ in September. The EU, the US, Canada and Australia have designated the PFLP a terrorist organisation.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May also said that she will tell internet firms to tackle ‘extremist’ content.

May insists ‘these ideologies of terror’ are spread ‘across all parts of our societies’ when in reality, virtually all terrorism throughout Europe is Islamic (nearly 1,000 instances in Germany alone this year).

Britain recently held an anti-Islamophobia week in which police visited London mosques to encourage reporting of ‘hate crimes’ despite the fact that the overwhelming number of victims have been Jews. British police helicopters swooped on a party (at what cost?) playing a record mocking Osama bin Laden.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments