German faked conversion to board ‘Jewish’ Gaza boat

http://goo.gl/DI8j

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
10/08/2010 03:01

Television producers face flak for false report, say “not customary to pressure people to produce conversion documents before interviews.”

Talkbacks (6)

BERLIN – The German passenger aboard the Irene catamaran that tried to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza last month appears to have invented her conversion to Judaism, Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Tuesday.

“Edith Lutz is definitely a Jew, like a smoked pork chop is kosher,” reporter Henryk M.Broder wrote.

The Irene, organized by the British NGO Jews for Justice for Palestinians, supposedly carried a total of nine passengers and crew members, all Jews, to show that not all Jews supported Israel’s Gaza policies. The Israel Navy diverted it to Ashdod Port.

According to the Tagesspiegel report, the German Jewish psychologist Dr. Rolf Verleger asked Lutz if she formally converted to Judaism, and she “did not dispel the suspicion” that she is not Jewish.

The German television program ARD-Magazin Monitor broadcast a widely-seen report in June, in which Lutz was named as a representative of “Jews from Germany”, and as part of a group of Germans Jews who want to show that “they are not in agreement with the policies of Israel.”

Monitor’s producers have been accused of sloppy journalism for failing to diligently factcheck Lutz’s credentials as a converted Jew, and turning her into a representative of Germany’s 106,000 Jews.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Wednesday termed the Monitor report “embarrassing” and noted that many German news organizations have paraded Lutz as a “prominent spokesperson for the organization ‘Jews for a Just Peace in the Middle East’ – and she is not a Jew.”

Sonia Seymour Mikich, the editor-in-chief of Monitor, seemed to duck the criticisms in a statement on why the program presented a woman masquerading as a converted Jew.

It “is not customary for Monitor to pressure people to produce baptismal and conversion documents in order to conduct interviews”, she wrote.

Mikich further noted that Lutz wishes to “continue to protect her private life.”

Many German journalists devote a great deal of coverage to fringe Jews who bash the Jewish state.

The popular pro-Israeli blogger website Lizas Welt wrote on Tuesday that Lutz’s tirades against Israel are “what the majority in Germany wants to hear.”

Lizas Welt slammed Lutz’s “verbal attacks on Israel” as including equating the Jewish state’s actions with those of the Nazis.

Lutz has stated that the Israeli government issued her passport without a “deportation stamp.” The word “deportation” in a German context carries a Nazi-era connotation from the time when Europe’s Jews were deported to extermination camps.

Nathan Gelbart, the Berlin-based attorney who heads the German branch of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “over 7 million people live in Israel’s democracy, which, in contrast to their more than 30 million Arab neighbors, are allowed to openly discuss the controversy surrounding the appropriateness of the sea blockade of Gaza. And Israelis openly discuss the blockade.

“Edith Lutz, whether Jew or non-Jew, is needed in Israel as much as her three backpacks that she sought to bring to Gaza – that is to say, not at all.”

According to a report from Ulrich Sahm, a veteran journalist in Israel, Lutz brought three backpacks that contained stuffed animals, second hand toys and musical instruments on the Irene.

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