German magazine Der Spiegel attacks Jewish student

After an ostensibly serious magazine attempted to humiliate a Jewish student, he got dozens of hate messages, including death threats


When students at Berlin’s Freie Universität (FU) held a rally for Palestine three weeks ago, there was a media circus: the 85 protestors were surrounded by 85 journalists. There were dozens of often absurdly defamatory reports, but a seven-minute video from Spiegel TV, which has been viewed over 350,000 times, stands out.

Der Spiegel, ostensibly one of Germany’s more serious news publications, deserves some kind of prize for the most deceptive and hateful report of the FU rally. Even the title of the video contains a lie: they call it a “Protest against Jews”, while deliberately ignoring at least three Jewish students who took the microphone to speak against genocide, the Jewish students who co-organized the protest, and the many who attended. 

Instead of reporting what happened, Der Spiegel opened their video with a full minute attempting to humiliate a Jewish student. They narrate:

“The moderator calls himself HP Loveshaft, describes himself as trans, and prefers the pronouns ‘it/him’.”

The screen is filled with HP’s Instagram account, zooming in on a picture in a bathing suit. No one else in the video gets their gender or pronouns examined, nor has intimate photos shown.

Although they spent so much time digging into HP’s personal history, the reporters neglect to mention his Jewish heritage — even though he referred to himself as a Jew numerous times and his kippah is clearly visible. They claim he is hostile to mainstream media — while in reality, HP was asking reporters to take a few steps back and make space for students. The rather bombastic style will be familiar to anyone who enjoys drag shows.

By publishing HP’s Instagram handle, Der Spiegel prompted right-wing trolls to send dozens of hateful messages and even death threats to a Jewish student. He was called a “filthy dog” and a “tranny boy”, among many other insults. Several haters expressed their “wish he had never come to Germany” — a desire to make the country judenrein (free of Jews) again. Several messages make their death threats explicit, saying that they hope HP gets “beaten to death on the open street” or that they “will fuck [HP] mentally, financially, socially, on all levels.”

The German media, in demanding unlimited support for the Israeli government, have attacked Jewish activists relentlessly. Der Spiegel‘s transphobic campaign, however, including personal information to encourage harassment, represents a new low.

This portrayal of Jews as lewd, lascivious, and of indistinct gender are typical of antisemitic caricatures — a regular motif of Philipp Rupprecht’s drawings in the Nazi publication Der Stürmer. It’s not clear if Der Spiegel was deliberately referencing these antisemitic clichés, or this is a case of unconscious bias by right-wing reporters.

I’ve reached out to Spiegel TV to ask if they have an “Antisemitism Commissar” — I’ll update this article if they get back.

During the rally on February 8, Udi Raz, a Jewish student at FU and well-known activist for Jewish Voice for Peace, was detained by police for supposedly insulting the university president. Der Spiegel chose to ignore this police intimidation of Jewish students. Instead, they only air claims that right-wing Jewish students are being intimidated by pro-Palestine activists. Although this claim has been repeated for months, the public has not seen a single piece of evidence — no journalist has asked to see a screenshot of a threatening text.

Bizarrely, the only evidence Der Spiegel chooses to share with its viewers comes from a previous incident and clearly shows a pro-Zionist student assaulting Palestine solidarity activists, who refuse to be provoked by the violence and remain peaceful. In a voiceover, a right-wing student explains that the young man committing assault was defending other people — though, for reasons that remain unexplored, this was not caught on video. HP is also easily recognizable in this video as a victim of the violence.

To summarize, Der Spiegel has published unverified claims of intimidation of Jewish students — and in the process, the magazine is shamelessly intimidating Jewish students. HP has had to switch his Instagram to private due to the harassment, and this stoking of racist and transphobic sentiments will affect countless other members of communities already facing terrible violence.

This German magazine claims to defend Jewish students — but only if they align perfectly with German government policy. Jews who dare to criticize a genocide being carried out in their name are made invisible, slandered, and harassed. The dichotomy is disturbing. For Der Spiegel, there are “good Jews” who deserve protection, as long as they are gender-conforming and patriotic towards “their” homeland. “Bad Jews” who question the gender binary and reject Zionist colonialism, in contrast, are fair game. Their very Jewishness is questioned, in a disturbing echo of the claim by Nazi boss Hermann Göring: “I decide who is a Jew!” It is noteworthy that right-wing, non-Jewish Germans who support the Israeli government are regularly asked to speak for the Jewish people — whereas actual Jews who fall out of line are silenced.

While Der Spiegel likes to present itself as a left-liberal magazine with a long history of defending democracy, historians point out that the magazine’s founder, Rudolf Augstein, dedicated considerable resources to rehabilitating former Nazis. As just one example, he invited Rudolf Diels, head of the Gestapo, to write an eight-part series for the magazine whitewashing the record of the Nazi secret police. More recently, Der Spiegel has released dozens of racist covers warning about the dangers of immigrants — often using the same aesthetics from antisemitic posters of a century ago.

In their fervor to defend Israel’s right-wing government, German media know absolutely no boundaries in attacking critical Jews. The family of the Israeli director Yuval Abraham has had to flee their home after a campaign by right-wing media accusing him of antisemitism. Yet this video by Der Spiegel nonetheless stands out in its use of despicable antisemitic stereotypes.