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August 11, 2016 4:32 am

UK Paper Turns Court Ruling on Kafka’s Papers Into Act of Israeli Aggression

avatar by Adam Levick

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Franz Kafka. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Franz Kafka. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s the entire August 10 article (pay wall) at the Times of London written by Gregg Carlstrom:

A decade-long legal battle for Franz Kafka’s papers apparently ended yesterday with Israel’s highest court ruling that they should become the property of the national library.

The court rejected a claim by the heirs of Max Brod, a friend of Kafka who handled the author’s estate after his death in 1924, that they owned the papers, which are worth millions.

Kafka instructed Brod, a Czech Jewish author, to burn the documents but he ignored this and took a suitcase of Kafka’s papers when he fled the Nazis for Palestine in 1939. A few were published, but he locked most away.

When Brod died in 1968 his will instructed his secretary, Esther Hoffe, to donate the papers to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem or another archive. She kept them, however, and shared them with her daughters. Hoffe sold an original copy of The Trial for $2 million in 1988. The remaining papers are in safety-deposit boxes in Israel and Switzerland.

Israel’s national library successfully sued the Hoffes for the papers in 2007, but the family appealed against the ruling. The high court rejected that appeal on Monday, ruling that Brod had not wanted the papers to be auctioned and they should become state property.

“This is a celebratory day for any person of culture,” David Blumberg, the library’s chairman, said. Kafka’s papers will be made available to the public.

Now, what would be an appropriate headline?

How about this?

Kafka Manuscripts Belong to Israeli National Library, Israel’s High Court rules

Or this?

Israeli court decides Kafka works to go to National Library

Or this?

Franz Kafka literary legal battle ends as Israel’s high court rules in favor of library

Ok, now here’s the headline chosen by the editors at the Times of London: “Kafka’s papers seized by Israeli judges.”

Of course, nothing was in fact “seized.”

Moreover, it’s a mystery how the editors managed to frame a legal decision by the state’s widely respected high court into some sort of act of Israeli aggression.

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  • Lu San Chin

    Let me get this straight: Kafka instructed Brod, a Czech Jewish author, to burn the documents!

    He kept them instead, as they were worth millions!

    Upon his death, he instructed to donate what he stole from Kafka to Hebrew University in Jerusalem but she sold some for $2 million instead.

    Now comes the opportunity to fulfill Kafka’s dying wish and no one listens!

    Sad part in what appears to be disrespect to Kafka is that all players are Jews!

  • Alisa Jost

    not surprising but always shocking. Never miss an opportunity to demonize the jews and the jewish state

  • Victor Mc

    Now you know why I have not bought a copy of The Times for 10 year. When they started their pay-wall I blanked that as well.
    Many many years ago now I was a Times reader every day. So goes the dead tree press. Now they know….

    • Brian Goldfarb

      So, what paper do you buy? The Guardian? Or, if a “broadsheet” The Daily Telegraph (popularly known, even to its readers, as The Torygraph).

      Just asking.

  • A Zionist

    British media has long been exposed for its antisemitic musings in the guise of “news.” The Times used to be THE paper. Indeed, it was The Times journalist who exposed the antisemitic, libellous fraud, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

    British media consists of “journalists” who know nothing about anything. As Khaled Abu Toameh noted as he relatively recently drove a journalist around Israel: “I want you to show me the Israeli Settlements in Gaza.” Abu Toameh carefully explained, that Israel left Gaza unilaterally in 2005! They do not understand that JUDEA & SAMARIA has always been Jewish; and there has never been a Palestinian state. They don’t even know that Palestine is a Latin-ised version of Philistine, based on the Hebrew and used by Emperor Hadrain in 136 C.E. to erase Jewish history.

    Matti Friedman has written about the media.

    • Dani Renan

      Except for the last part. Indeed, Palestine is the Latinized/Romanized, but of the Greek.
      Palestine is the Greek translation of Isra(el). Go to any translation program and type in westler and translate it to Greek – you get “palaistês”. Thus the Greek Palaistinê (and the derived Latin Palaestina). is simply Greek for the “Land of the wrestler”, Isra(el). Nothing to do with the Philistines.

      If you’d like more I wrote an article based on Jacobson’s publication in the BAR (Biblical Archeology Review) e-mail me at and I’ll send you the articles.

  • Notice how this Gregg Carlstrom does not mention the papers’ cultural value, but their monetary value.
    For him it’s money uber alles.
    And they say that Jews love money.

  • Myron Slater

    The usual anti-Semitic press of the English has stuck again.

  • enufizenufsky

    You’ve seen this before, an abusive parent creates an abusive child. The violence done upon the English people by their government, their loss of freedom of speech, the invasion of their country by millions of muslims hell-bent on destroying the place, this violence has caused them to take all of their frustrations and anger out on somebody other than their true oppressors. So its easy and safe for them to bully around the Jews. But we all know how the story’s going to end, and it won’t be pretty,there won’t be an England anymore. Israel will still be there in 50 years, but England’s going to be 70% muslim, and tens of millions of Brits will have left or will be trying to leave for the US, Canada, Australia, wherever will take them in.

  • Lia

    Mr Levick, please keep on doing what you are doing: ToL, like the Beeb and the NYT may never become honest newspapers/reporters, but the public should know their dishonesty.

  • Steven Sommer

    Patently Kafkaesque!

  • Victor H Miesel

    Obviously, the title of the headline is meant to twist and pervert “truth”, and why the term Kafkaesque is more relevant than ever… Unfortunately. I think a more problematic issue relates to the desire of artists to control intellectual property or intangibles after death, and instructions related to Kafka’s instructions to Brod. Of course, I’m glad Brod ignored Kafka’s request to destroy his notes, but this does leave open the question of whether or not there’s a legal duty of the court to finally carry-out Kafka’s “last will”. Here again, I hope not.. But still…

  • Subtle and pervasive. Associating “seize” to fuel a concept of Jewish/Israeli aggression. Has nothing to do with the legal issue at hand–the provenance of Kafka’s papers. Keep up the good work in confronting this bilge produced by the media.