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German man accused of posing as a Jew and peddling fake, antisemitism-laced Holocaust story

BERLIN (JTA) – A retired teacher living in a tiny German island town has been promoting himself as a Jew under the mantle of an official program designed to introduce non-Jews to Jewish people and practices.

But Frank Borner is not part of the “Meet a Jew” initiative operated by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the organization says.

In fact, there is no evidence that Borner is Jewish at all — and yet he has been offering a first-person perspective on being Jewish in Germany to audiences with few such opportunities, making comments sometimes smacking of antisemitism.

“The damage done by such charlatans to such an important project is great,” the Central Council said in a statement.

Borner appears to be another iteration of the “costume Jew” who advertises a false Jewish identity and builds a career or public persona around it. The phenomenon has long simmered in Germany, where Jewishness sometimes holds unusual fascination because of the Holocaust. It has become a public fixation this summer after a high-profile case emerged: that of Fabian Wolff, 33, a journalist who recently revealed that he is not actually Jewish after functioning for years as a Jewish frontman for left-wing Israel critics.

Unlike Wolff, Borner did not reveal himself. Instead, he was outed by German Jewish journalist Henryk Broder in the Die Welt newspaper in late July after Broder attended a talk that Borner was delivering in the village of Petersdorf, on the island of Fehmarn. Broder raised concerns about inconsistencies, inaccuracies and gaps in Borner’s family story — and he noted that Borner invoked antisemitic stereotypes during his presentation.

For example, Broder noted, Borner said his family emigrated to the United States after the war: to “New York and Hollywood, both full of Jews, firmly in Jewish hands.” According to Broder, no one in the audience expressed surprise at this comment, which overlaps with antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish power.

Reached via email for a comment, Borner referred the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to the Gospel of Matthew in the Christian Bible: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

He later emailed an additional note. “During German fascism from 1933 to 1945, Germans hunted down Jewish fellow citizens,” he wrote. “In today’s Western democracy, Jewish people prey on other Jewish fellow human beings.”

The German Jewish journalist Henryk Broder, seen here in 2012, happened to be in the audience for a “Meet a Jew” presentation in Petersdorf auf Fehmarn, where he found the presenter’s story to be inconsistent. (Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Borner also told JTA that he and his family have never belonged to an official Jewish community in Germany, although he insisted that he has Jewish ancestry. “We have always belonged to a liberal-political Judaism,” he wrote.

The case highlights the role of Jews in the German popular imagination. “This is a widespread situation, especially in Germany, that people make themselves out to be Jews or see themselves as such, although they are not,” German Jewish historian Julius Schoeps said in a report last month about “Jewish fake identities and the question of ‘why’” on Deutschlandfunk radio.

“I just think it’s a syndrome, a syndrome that is deeply rooted in German society,” Schoeps said. “It’s a problem that has to do with people suffering from the past. And this problem can indeed take on strange forms.”

Masquerading as a Holocaust survivor or as someone with Holocaust trauma in the family is not limited to Germany. The phenomenon is sometimes called the Wilkomirski Syndrome, after the Swiss author whose 1995 best-selling “autobiography” about surviving the Holocaust turned out to be a fake.

In another notable case, the late German historian Sophie Hingst composed a family tree of Holocaust survivors and victims and even sent 22 pages of testimony for nonexistent people to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and archive, before Der Spiegel magazine revealed that she had a Protestant background. Hingst died by suicide four years ago, shortly after the magazine made her story public.

Journalist Kirsten Serup-Bildfeldt pointed out in the Deutschlandfunk report that many such cases involve individuals who feel guilt and shame over the Nazi past and desire to be identified with the morally correct side of history.

Among the sensational cases she mentioned, without identifying the people by name:

The head of a small German Jewish community who resigned after Spiegel magazine published a story in 2018 that questioned his biography.
A man who posed as a survivor and told his story to school groups, including the detail that his father died in the Buchenwald concentration camp — when in fact, his father was a soldier in the Nazi army.
A woman who served as a Jewish community leader in a former East German city before German unification but whose claim to Jewish heritage was challenged.
A vocal critic of Israel who claimed to be the child of survivors but had a regular German housewife mother and a father who was a Wehrmacht soldier.

“This biography was her way to get into the position of a supposed Jew in order to speak against Israel,” says Serup-Bildfeldt, who is not Jewish. “People who do this are doing enormous damage to the Jewish community. It is more of a psychological problem than a political one, but they also do political damage.”

In Borner’s case, the damage could come in the form of reinforcing antisemitic stereotypes at a time when they are seen to be on the rise. That trend is one reason that the Central Council of Jews in Germany launched the “Meet a Jew” initiative in 2020 and grew it to include 600 talks by 500 volunteers last year. The goal, the council said, was to shift attention away from the past.

The “Meet a Jew” project brings Jewish volunteers into classrooms to talk about their experiences. (Courtesy of Meet a Jew)

“Our idea is really to introduce modern-day Jewish life, and to give Jewish people a face and a voice,” Masha Schmerling, the program director at its launch, told JTA at the time.

Borner said little about contemporary Jewish life when he addressed groups twice in June at a citizens’ information center in the town of Petersdorf, saying, “Here on the island I am considered to be a Jew.” Broder was in the audience for the second session.

His talk focused on his family’s Holocaust history. In addition to his comments about Jewish control of Hollywood, Borner also repeated other antisemitic tropes. He said he was interested in “why the Jews went to the slaughter like sheep,” saying, “Why did the Jews do that? They were people with money, with international connections!” according to Broder’s report.

Borner also reportedly said that there was a special Jewish “capacity for suffering” connected with the “victim role” that clung to Jews “archetypically, like primordial slime.”

Broder wrote that the audience “neither questions nor disagrees” when Borner refers to Hollywood, and “listens in silence” as he discusses Jewish victimhood.

For Broder, red flags flew as Borner told his story. When speaking about the anti-Jewish pogrom of November 1938, Borner described its orchestrator — Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels — as “a philologist with a PhD who wrote very beautiful poetry.” The pogrom was “the first central experience for our family,” said Borner, adding that his grandfather — a doctor — was taken by surprise, even though one of his patients had warned him.

The German island of Fehmarn is home to vacation colonies and one man who is publicly advertising himself as a Jew despite not having any evidence to support his story. (Frank Molter/picture alliance via Getty Images)

As Broder points out, Jewish doctors were not allowed to have non-Jewish patients after the summer of 1938.

The question of whether Borner has any Jewish roots remains unanswered. He insists that he does, but he refused to tell Broder where his supposedly Jewish side of his family had lived and provided only sketchy details about their persecution under the Nazis.

When Broder asked where Borner’s Jewish family had lived, “he disposed of the question in the trash bin of history, with one sentence: ‘I don’t wish to say that now.’”

Broder identified three different stories that Borner had offered about his grandfather’s fate. At the “Meet a Jew” event Borner said he had been beaten to death during the Kristallnacht pogrom, known in Germany as Reichspogromnacht. In a Facebook post, Borner said his entire family survived the war because they fled the country. Finally, Borner told the Lübecker Nachrichten newspaper that his grandfather committed suicide in a concentration camp.

Broder reported that relatives contacted the newspaper later and told them the story was not true.

How Borner ended up back in Germany remained a mystery in his “Meet a Jew” talk, where he said he had been to Israel a few times with his parents, in the early 1950s. “Which is kind of astonishing,” Broder noted in his report, “since he said he was born in 1956.”


The post German man accused of posing as a Jew and peddling fake, antisemitism-laced Holocaust story appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns

Stadion Widzewa is a multi-use stadium in Łódź, Poland. It is currently used mostly for football matches and serves as the home stadium of Widzew Łódź. Photo: maps.pomocnik.com.

Two Israeli soccer teams — Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Beer Sheva — that were set to play their European Championship matches in the Polish city of Łódź have been banned by the hosting country, after widespread outrage from Poles.

The Union of European Football Associations previously announced that Israel will not be allowed to host UEFA-sanctioned matches due to the ongoing war against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

As a result, the Israeli clubs announced on Sunday that their new “home stadiums” would be the Władysław Król Municipal Stadium and the Stadion Widzewa in Łódź. Soon afterward, two Polish clubs that play at the stadiums released statements distancing themselves from the decision, with many fans expressing antisemitic outrage on social media against Israel and support for the Palestinians.

The Polish city’s Cultural and Sport authority then released a statement saying that no Israeli teams would play at any facilities in Łódz because “the safety of Łódź residents and visitors is the highest priority for the city.”

Yacov Livne, the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, slammed the decision and lodged a complaint with the Polish city.

“One should not give in to such threats. Lodz needs to remain a place of tolerance, not fear,” Livne said in a statement on X/Twitter.

Maccabi Haifa took second place in the Israeli top league, giving it the opportunity to play in the qualifying rounds for the European Conference League, while Hapoen Beer Sheva came third in the Israeli premier league.

One of the Polish clubs based in Łódz has a history of antisemitism.

In 2016, a group of ŁKS Łódz hooligans set fire to “Jewish” effigies and paraded a banner calling for the burning of Jews. Years earlier in 2013, fans of the same team invited visitors to an indoor tournament to play a game in which they could throw objects at “Jews,” models dressed in uniforms of the club’s rival, Widzew Łódź. A sign next to the game informed players that for a meager price they would be given “three throws at the Jews.”

Antisemitism is increasingly creeping into Polish politics as well.

Last week a virulently antisemitic member of the Polish parliament who extinguished the candles of a lit Hanukkah menorah with a fire extinguisher won a seat in the European Parliament elections, riding a wave of far-right success across the continent.

The post Poland Bans Israeli Soccer Teams From Major City Due to ‘Safety’ Concerns first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’

Quentin Tarantino being harassed by anti-Israel media personality “Crackhead Barney.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

A notorious anti-Israel social media personality accosted filmmaker Quentin Tarantino at a New York City restaurant and called him a “Zionist piece of s–t.”

A woman known online as “Crackhead Barney” shared a video on Saturday of her confrontation with the “Django Unchained” director, 61, as he was eating alone inside a restaurant on St. Marks Place. She approached his table and shouted, “Quentin Tarantino, say ‘Free Palestine!’ Why are you a Zionist piece of s__t?!” Tarantino remained silent as Barney repeated herself and then asked him, “Going to Israel?” as workers from the establishment tried to make her leave the restaurant.

When Tarantino left the eatery, a rowdy crowd awaited him outside including Barney, who confronted him again. She repeatedly shouted “Free Palestine” and asked the director to “say ni–er” multiple times while also exposing herself to the “Pulp Fiction” director. The crowd of people outside the restaurant also chanted “Toes! Toes!” which is seemingly a nod to the director’s fixation with showcasing feet in his movies.

Tarantino is married to Israeli singer Daniella Pick, who is the daughter of legendary Israeli pop musician Svika Pick. The couple live in Tel Aviv with their two children and Tarantino spoke in 2021 about learning Hebrew. In 2022, he received an honorary degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, Tarantino visited an army base in southern Israel and met with Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops.

Earlier this year, Barney harassed actor Alec Baldwin inside a coffee shop in New York City and recorded their confrontation on her cellphone. She told the actor, “Free Palestine … F–k Israel, F–k Zionism.” She repeatedly asked Baldwin to also say “Free Palestine” and when she would not back down, Baldwin eventually knocked Barney’s phone from her hands.

The post Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Harassed in NYC by Anti-Israel Media Personality For Being a ‘Zionist’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks

A protester wrapped in an Israeli flag at a rally against antisemitism at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Lisi Niesner

A live web service provided by Aish.com that allows users to speak directly with one of the Jewish organization’s leading rabbis has seen a 300 percent increase in usage since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.

More than 5,000 chat responses (over 225 per day) are received each month, according to Aish, which added in a press release that many of the chats turn into extended conversations, sometimes on WhatsApp, in which rabbis help unaffiliated or disconnected Jewish users reconnect with their Jewish identities and form bonds with other Jews.

The Jewish organization said it believes the increase in usage of its live web chat service is due to the global rise in antisemitism and a newfound curiosity about Israel following Oct. 7, as well as a “yearning for meaning and community in the face of life’s uncertainties, and a desire for deeper meaning and spirituality in the face of a fast-paced modern culture where spiritual needs have been put on a backburner for too long.”

“We’re hearing from so many Jews who feel profoundly disconnected, whether due to living in areas with little Jewish community or lack of affiliation growing up,” said Rabbi Tzvi Broker, who oversees Aish.com‘s Live Chat. “The personal nature of these interactions, coupled with their anonymity, creates a safe space to ask questions and begin exploring. Having a live rabbi to connect and share with, has been a draw for many, and we’re seeing lives transformed as a result.”

Among their efforts, Broker and his team have helped people on the chat slowly incorporate Jewish rituals and traditions into their lives, and have connected them with peers through the organization’s new online community Aish+ so they can continue learning and engaging with other Jews.

“It’s amazing to witness lives being transformed in such profound ways,” said Broker. “Jews around the world are finding threads of connection to their heritage, and tapping into the depth and wisdom of our tradition to find meaning, community, and resilience in these challenging times.”

Bob Diener, the founder of hotels.com and the seed funder of Aish.com’s live chat, added in a statement: “The chat has been a powerful way for people to connect one-on-one with a spiritual leader and have their unique questions answered in a non-threatening and non-intimidating way. The chat’s rabbis are connecting so many people to their roots who otherwise don’t know where to go for guidance.”

“The chats have had a deep impact on many disconnected from the Jewish community,” said Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg. “Each of the people we connect with demonstrates a broad yearning to explore Jewish spirituality, peoplehood, and identity and that is why they have been turning to Aish for connection and guidance. We are happy to provide both while connecting them with local Jewish communities in their area, if there is one, to continue their journey.”

The post Online Live Chat Service for Jews to Connect With Rabbis Sees 300% Increase Since Oct. 7 Attacks first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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