"Fake Jew" scandals rocked Germany in late July after disclosures in the media reported two German men fabricated their Jewish identities while publicly slamming the Jewish state and spreading alleged anti-Semitism.
Fabian Wolff, who paraded his Jewish background as an active supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, acknowledged in a lengthy article for Die Zeit newspaper that he is not Jewish.
Over the years, Wolff launched scathing attacks against pro-Israel Jews, the State of Israel, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) definition of modern anti-Semitism, while writing for major leading German newspapers, ranging from Die Zeit to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The 33-year-old Wolff, who works as a teacher, wrote in his Die Zeit essay titled "My Life as a Son" that his late mother apparently misled him about his maternal great-grandmother being an Orthodox Jew. "I will not speak from the position of a Jew in Germany, because I cannot and I am not," Wolff wrote.
Wolff's critics contend he knowingly deceived the public and is a journalistic huckster. Writing for the left-wing German daily paper Taz, journalist Erica Zingher said, "Wolff himself is responsible for his false claims; others contributed to his rise. That too is part of the story."
Zingher argued that there is a kind of insatiable demand among left-leaning publications in Germany for Jews who will advocate for BDS and delegitimize the Jewish state. This helps to explain why Wolff's articles were "attractive" for liberal and leftist readers and news editors.
Zingher, who is Jewish, neatly captured the effect of Wolff's agitation against Israel in 2021. That year, Israel fought an 11-day mini-war with the terrorist movement Hamas, known as Operation "Guardian of the Walls," during which Hamas launched 3,500 rockets at Israel. She explained that Wolff's promotion of BDS and attacks on Israel unfolded "at a time when anti-Semitism in left-wing or anti-Israel demonstrations was reaching a new peak."
In a bizarre twist to the Wolff story, Philipp Peyman Engel, the deputy editor of the government-financed German Jewish weekly newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, wrote that his publication became aware in September 2021 that "some journalists in Berlin received detailed research into the extent to which Wolff's Jewish biography was made up from start to finish." He continued, "In journalistic circles, the question was not when Fabian Wolff's costume Judaism would be exposed, but only who would make it public first."
The state-funded German Jewish outlet obtained the dossier about Wolff's false Jewish identity, ostensibly in 2021. Peyman Engel said his newspaper decided not to disclose Wolff's fake identity at the time, citing an incident in 2019 when a German historian and blogger named Marie Sophie Hingst committed suicide after it was disclosed that she lied about being the descendant of Holocaust survivors. Questions abound over whether Philipp Peyman Engel and the paper failed to meet their journalistic obligation to report on stories of great public interest.
And yet, there has been no shortage of examples over the decades about Germans who manufactured a Jewish identity and did not kill themselves.
In 2010, the prominent German-Jewish journalist, Henryk M. Broder, exposed that a German woman aboard the vessel MV Irene, which sought to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, invented her conversion to Judaism. "Edith Lutz is definitely a Jew, like a smoked pork chop is kosher," Broder wrote at the time.
In 2012, the author of this article revealed that Irena Wachendorff, a German poet and anti-Israel activist, acknowledged that she fabricated her supposed service in the IDF during the First Lebanon war. She called strong pro- Israel activists "the neo-Nazi troop among the Jews," and expressed support for the terrorist movement Hamas that rules over the Gaza Strip.
Most recently, Broder and his colleague, Moritz Gerlach, unveiled another German man masquerading as a Jew. On July 19, they revealed that a man named Frank Borner ostensibly manufactured a Jewish identity and holds "Meet a Jew" presentations on the Baltic sea island of Fehmarn, part of Germany's northern-most state, Schleswig-Holstein.
The Welt article noted that Borner is obsessed with the questions of: "Why the Jews went like sheep to the slaughterhouse?" and "Why did the Jews in the U.S. go along with this?" During one "Meet a Jew" lecture, Borner told the audience: "Hollywood, it's full of Jews, firmly in the Jewish grip." He continued, "They were people with money, with international connections!"
When asked at the event how he practices Judaism, Borner said: "I understand myself as a political Jew." Borner, who claims to have a doctorate, declined to answer Die Welt's media queries.
In his new essay titled "Fight Antisemites, not Antisemitism," the president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Yigal Carmon, argues that programs like "Meet a Jew" are "motivated by good intentions," but "the chosen methods are misguided and cause the opposite of the desired effect. Moreover, they evade the crucial task of confronting anti-Semites themselves, and focus on the less-demanding task of doing PR for the Jews."
The irony of the "Meet a Jew" is that Broder first proposed the program as satirical joke. In 2021, the German government-funded Central Council of Jews implemented "Meet a Jew." Broder responded, with his usual biting wit, that it would be better to have a "Meet an anti-Semite" program.
i24NEWS sent press queries to Frank Borner, the Jewish community in Schleswig-Holstein, and the commissioner tasked with fighting anti-Semitism in the state, Gerhard Ulrich. The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Ulrich to resign last year because he reportedly delivered anti-Semitic sermons when he served as the Protestant Bishop for northern Germany.
Benjamin Weinthal, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @BenWeinthal.