Antisemitism in Germany

The organizers of a major German art show were forced to cover up caricatures of Jews that depicted them with a pig nose and sharp teeth, which the Israeli embassy referred to as “Goebbels-style propaganda.”

By United with Israel Staff

A recurring art exhibition this month in Kassel, Germany called Documenta sparked widespread controversy due to the viciously antisemitic images on display.

Ironically, themes such as tolerance, equality, and liberation were featured at the exhibition, messages that clashed with the Nazi-like depictions of Jews displayed there.

No work from Jewish artists from Israel was presented at Documenta.

After Jewish leaders and Israeli diplomats in Germany expressed “disgust” over the antisemitic images on display at the exhibition, described as one of the world’s largest art fairs, the organizers covered up the offensive artwork.

The work in question was created by an Indonesian collective called Taring Padi in 2002.

The mural depicts a man with a black hat and sidelocks, which are traditionally worn by Orthodox Jews, in addition to fangs, red eyes, and an SS insignia, the latter of which references the antisemitic trope that Israelis treat Palestinians like the Nazis treated Jews during the Holocaust.

The work also includes an image, ostensibly of an Israeli, with a helmet bearing the words “Mossad,” the Jewish state’s national intelligence agency. The character is depicted as a pig.

The images are reminiscent of Nazi propaganda, which sought to dehumanize Jews and portrayed them as animal-like creatures deserving of extermination. Such propaganda was a key feature of Adolf Hitler’s genocidal campaign to destroy the Jewish people.

“It is not meant to be related in any way to antisemitism,” claimed Taring Padi. “We are saddened that details in this banner are understood differently from its original purpose. We apologize for the hurt caused in this context.”

The Israeli embassy in Germany, however, disagreed, calling the Taring Padi piece “Goebbels-style propaganda,” referencing Joseph Goebbels, who engineered the Nazis’ antisemitic messaging during the Holocaust.

The Taring Padi controversy was proceeded by previous accusations of antisemitism leveled at Documenta for its inclusion of a Palestinian collective called the Question of Funding, which was linked to the antisemitic BDS movement by the Alliance Against Anti-Semitism Kassel.

The German parliament deemed BDS antisemitic in 2019 and banned it from receiving federal funds. Half of Documenta’s $44 million comes from such funds, according to AFP.