German Jewish leaders say Der Spiegel cover promoted ‘antisemitic prejudice’
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German Jewish leaders say Der Spiegel cover promoted ‘antisemitic prejudice’

Community claims the news magazine's illustration portrayed Jews as being 'foreign or exotic'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Germany’s Central Council of Jews has accused the popular news magazine Der Spiegel of propagating antisemitic stereotypes after it ran a cover illustration portraying local Jews as eastern European Chasidim.

The Council said that the image “unfortunately uses stereotypes of Jews,” raising the question of “what Der Spiegel intends with this photo selection and titling.”

“To portray Jews as foreign or exotic promotes antisemitic prejudice,” the Council said.

The story dealt with the history of German Jewry and painted a portrait of contemporary Jewish life in the European country, which is largely secular.

US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, also criticised the cover, which showed two strictly Orthodox men with long beards accompanied by the title “Jewish life in Germany,” tweeting that “antisemitism and anti-Americanism grows.”

A prominent German Jewish journalist, Richard Schneider, tweeted: “What is this title photo? So this is what we Jews look like in Germany? Jews with kippas and sidelocks — the classic ‘genre photo’ in editorial offices when it comes to an article about Jews. If one were to show us ‘completely normal’ then the majority society would probably have a problem”.

Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the American Jewish Committee’s European director, also criticised the image, tweeting, “Everything is wrong with this cover” along with an emoji of a woman covering her face in embarrassment.

Der Spiegel responded, explaining that the publication had “tried to show an aspect of the rich diversity of German-Jewish history” and that the story had examined “many other facets” of the Jewish experience in Germany.

“We did not want to use an antisemitic cliché [and] if this impression was created, we are sorry,” the magazine said. “That was not our intention.”

The row has developed only days after a Berlin rabbi, Yehuda Teichtal, has reported that he was insulted and spat at as he was heading home from synagogue with his son. Police are now treating the incident as a religiously motivated crime and are currently looking for suspects.

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