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German Bishop tasked with fighting antisemitism preached anti-Israel ideas

Terminology used by Bishop Gerhard Ulrich in a 2017 sermon “smacks of old Germanic antisemitic tropes and later Nazi antisemitism," says Hebron's Jewish community spokesman.

Bishop Gerhard Ulrich at Church Day Bremen 2009 in Bremen, Germany. Credit: Presse Nordelbien via Wikimedia Commons.
Bishop Gerhard Ulrich at Church Day Bremen 2009 in Bremen, Germany. Credit: Presse Nordelbien via Wikimedia Commons.

A former German state bishop recently appointed to fight Jew-hatred delivered a sermon in 2017 in which he stated that Israel’s “occupation” of the disputed territories “deforms souls.”

“On a meeting trip with members of the Lutheran World Federation to Israel-Palestine in November, we were able to experience how the time of occupation weighs on people, deforms souls, restricts freedom; how border controls degrade people and how this all breeds new violence,” said Bishop Gerhard Ulrich.

Ulrich was appointed in October as commissioner to combat antisemitism in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

In an interview with Catholic news outlet Domradio that same year, Ulrich also slammed Israel’s security barrier, comparing it to the Berlin Wall.

“Here we see a wall that is significantly higher than the Berlin Wall, and we know that walls never bring peace. In Hebron, we got the impression that terror is produced there rather than overcome,” he said.

Using “deform” to describe the souls of Jews, and “degrade” for Jewish people, “smacks of old Germanic antisemitic tropes and later Nazi antisemitism,” Rabbi Yishai Fleisher, the spokesman the for the Jewish community of Hebron, told JNS.

“Jewish people fighting for their homeland is the height of justice, and to insinuate that the fight is morally repugnant smacks of the very antisemitism that this Bishop has been tasked with fighting,” he said.

The associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told JNS, “With friends like Bishop Gerhard Ulrich, German Jewry and the State of Israel don’t need many enemies.”

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