The ‘Anti-Semitism Expert’ and His Nazi Mentor (Wolfgang Benz and Karl Bosl)

Posted by John Rosenthal

In December 2008, Berlin’s influential Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism came in for sharp criticism for holding a conference titled “Conceptions of the Muslim as Enemy — Conceptions of the Jew as Enemy.” Critics accused the center and its director, Wolfgang Benz, of equating contemporary “Islamophobia” with historical anti-Semitism.

In response, Benz would insist that he had never proposed any such equivalence. But, as detailed in my Pajamas Media report here, the wording of Benz’s preface to the 2008 edition of the Center’s yearbook makes clear that he was doing literally and precisely that. For Benz, “Islamophobia” was, in effect, the newest form of the “oldest hatred.” In the meanwhile, Benz has continued to defend his analysis. Thus, earlier this month, he published a new article in Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung on the alleged “parallels” between “Anti-Semites and the Enemies of Islam.”

As likewise discussed in my Pajamas Media report, what is perhaps most remarkable about Benz’s stylization of “Islamophobia” into the new form of anti-Semitism is his seemingly total indifference to the reality of Islamist terror: the phenomenon that has, after all, been the undeniable catalyst for most contemporary criticism of and/or hostility to Islam. But this indifference is perhaps not so surprising, after all, when one considers that Benz has gone so far as to express understanding for Islamist terror attacks. Thus, only two days after the 9/11 attacks, he described the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center as “symbols of pride and wealth and arrogance.” “To put up such buildings is the most extreme sort of arrogance,” Benz said, “and vulnerability is thus built into them.” (For Benz’s full remarks and the context, see my translation of Henryk Broder’s account here.)

Now, the German political scientist Clemens Heni has called attention to research revealing that Benz’s dissertation director, the historian Karl Bosl, was a committed Nazi who as late as January 1945 participated in a conference held at the birthplace of Adolf Hitler in the Austrian town of Braunau am Inn. Moreover, Bosl’s own intellectual mentor, Karl Alexander von Müller, was not only a Nazi, but indeed a personal acquaintance of Hitler and the brother-in-law of none other than Gottfried Feder: one of the founders and chief ideologues of what would become the National Socialist party.

See my translation of Clemens Heni’s article on Benz and Bosl on Pajamas Media here.

(Note: Sorry to regular readers for the infrequent posting recently, as well as for the delayed posting of the above note/link. The latter was the result of technical problems, which should be resolved now. — JR)

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