German Model Aircraft Manufacturer Under Fire for Negative Portrayal of ‘Zionism’ in Magazine Article About El Al
A leading German manufacturer of model airplanes is at the center of row concerning remarks about Zionism that were published in a feature about El Al, Israel’s national airline, in its monthly magazine.
Herpa, the German firm that is well-known among collectors for its high quality replicas of planes belonging to the world’s major airlines, ran the feature in the October edition of WingsWorld, a magazine sent to subscribers. The article, which does not identify its author, begins by describing the formation of El Al’s operation during the difficult early decades of the State of Israel, noting that the Jewish state was created after “six million Jews lost their lives in concentration camps until the victory of the allies over Germany ended this horror.”
However, the section of the article which discusses the hijacking of El Al planes by Palestinian terrorists during the 1960s is introduced with the following sentence: “The conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, who have been experiencing the Jewish settlement of Palestine backed by US patronage of Zionism to this day as a violent, illegal occupation and eviction, increased significantly.”
The piece then goes on to examine the hijackings carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, including the following observation: “The terror of the PFLP and many other organizations didn’t remain restricted to El Al, and has its bitter climax with the events of ‘9-11’.”
In a letter to Andreas zu Leiningen, the German Prince who purchased the Herpa company in 2009, Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director of International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, argued that “the linking of Jews and Israel to United States patronage and, ambiguously, to conspiracy theories around the Twin Towers atrocity, is classical antisemitism as defined in the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), Berlin Declaration of 2004.” Samuels added that he would “personally raise the case of Herpa in Berlin at the tenth anniversary of that Declaration next month, for this article shows how far Jew-hatred can be taken.”
Samuels expressed surprise at “the absence of ‘El Al’ from the ‘label’ list on Herpa’s website between position 36 for DHL and 37 for Emirates,” continuing, “yet, at number 51 we find ‘Israel Defense Force’. Nor is El Al on the drop down advanced list of labels.”
Samuels wrote: “It may therefore be construed that Herpa – while publicly maintaining an image of boycott – is quite happy to sell Israel’s civil aircraft models, hidden under its backlink ‘Product Search,’ while maligning the airline of the Jewish State for its WingsWorld magazine subscribers, many of whom are children.”
“As a nobleman descended from a long Teutonic line, we hope you will agree that Germany is the last place for any such form of antisemitism,” Samuels concluded. “Prince Andreas, we call on you to launch an investigation into this Herpa and WingsWorld behavior, to fire those responsible, and to apologize forthwith for this offense to the Jewish people, whether in Germany, Israel or around the world.”
A spokesman for Herpa confirmed with The Algemeiner that Samuels’ letter had been received by the company, but made no further comment.