The German University of Göttingen has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from scholars, students and Jewish organsations by not extending the employment contract of Dr. Samuel Salzborn – one of the most prominent academic experts in German anti-Semitism.
“It is a scandal! It shows that critical research on right-wing radicalism/anti-Semitism is not desired in Germany,” wrote Julius Schoeps, a leading German Jewish historian and a descendant of the 18th century philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, according to The Jerusalem Post.
An open letter supported by scores of academics, student groups, and human rights NGOs was sent to the university’s administration in late April titled, “Retain the chair of Professor Salzborn.”
The letter states, “Prof. Salzborn is one of the most distinguished anti-Semitism researchers in the German-speaking area. Considering the Presidential Board’s focus on continuously being nominated as a ‘university of excellence’ (granted by a Federal research program) the decision not to extend the contract is highly inconsistent, to say the least. Prof. Salzborn is also a renowned expert on right-wing extremism, who has published many studies on the subject.”
Salzborn also has expertise in contemporary anti-Semitism – the loathing and de-legitimization of the Jewish state.
Göttingen is a major university city in the state of Lower Saxony. During the widespread outbreak of anti-Semitism, including violence, amid Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Salzborn told The New York Times, “There is a startling indifference in the German public to the current display of anti-Semitism.”
“In times of PEGIDA, arsoned refugee homes, the rise of the right-wing populist party AfD, and nearly five years after the neo-Nazi terrorist group NSU was discovered (the scope and support networks of which are yet to be fully examined) the Presidential Board’s decision to not extend the contract also sends a dubious political signal,” the open letter reads.
When asked about the reasons for terminating Salzborn’s contract, a university spokesman said it does not comment on “personnel matters.”
The university was engulfed in an anti-Semitic scandal in 2008 for teaching hatred of Israelis and a wild conspiracy theory about Jews.
The professor of sports, Arnd Krüger, argued in his lecture on “Hebron and Munich: How do we communicate sports history without getting caught in [the] snare of anti-Semitism?” that the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who died at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich essentially committed suicide “for the cause of Israel.”
Krüger also said Israel had a high abortion rate compared with other industrialized nations, and that the Jewish state went to great lengths to prevent “living with disabilities.”
Ilan Mor, the then chargé d’affairs at the Israeli Embassy, said at the time, “This is the worst form of dehumanizing the State of Israel.”
The university refused to dismiss Krüger.
Salzborn has taught at the university since 2012. His contract will end in 2017.