Precht apologizes – and then takes aim at “our media landscape”

“That’s wrong, that was said casually”: Richard David Precht and Markus Lanz admitted mistakes in their latest podcast on the war in Israel. However, the anti-Semitism allegations hit her hard. Both see an “immorality” at work in the media landscape.

In response to criticism of their podcast about the war in Israel, Markus Lanz and Richard David Precht spoke out in a special edition of their series of conversations produced by ZDF. In connection with ultra-Orthodox Jews, there were “a few sentences that were at least misleading,” as Lanz immediately admitted in his introduction.

At the same time, he emphasized that the severity of the accusations had affected him. Especially in relation to his friend and discussion partner Precht. “It hit me that in no time at all you were relabeled as an anti-Semite – and I was at the same time,” said Lanz.

He knows from personal conversations with Precht that he is anything but an anti-Semite and that coming to terms with the Shoah has always been “close to his heart.” This also applies to himself, emphasized Lanz, who, among other things, referred to many editions of his ZDF talk in which Holocaust survivors were guests. “That’s why this really hurt me.”

Precht: “That’s wrong, that was said casually”

The scandal was triggered by various statements made by Precht about society in Israel. Especially the one in which the doctor of German and philosophy talk host (“Precht”, ZDF) assumed that religion forbids strictly Orthodox Jews from working. Quote Precht: “Except for a few things, like diamond trading and a few financial transactions.” After heavy criticism from politicians, the media, associations and even the Israeli embassy, ​​the passage was subsequently deleted by ZDF.

“That is wrong, that was said casually, and that simply does not correspond to the facts,” Richard David Precht now withdrew the statement and followed up with an apology to all those “who saw something anti-Semitic in it.” For him, anti-Semitism is “that far away like hardly anything else.”

Markus Lanz was “already thinking about the next thought”

Precht made it clear: There is “no religious commandment not to work,” but rather it is “virtually voluntary.” The best-selling author continues: “The main reason why Jews didn’t work, and you learn this in high school at school (…), is of course that they were excluded from the guilds in the Middle Ages, that they were excluded were forced out of the craft professions or were not admitted at all and that they then switched to several activities, including financial transactions.”

All of this was clear to him at all times; he “laxly interjected” the criticized sentence based on the impressions of a recent trip to Antwerp, where he took a closer look at the diamond trade. He “presented the historical facts incorrectly and crookedly by shortening them”.

Precht asked for forgiveness again: “To all the people whose religious feelings I hurt, or who saw themselves portrayed in a distorted way, or who were reminded of anti-Semitic clichés, I apologize to them completely, because nothing is further from my heart. “

Markus Lanz explained that his counterpart didn’t stop at this point by saying that he was “already on to his next thought” and therefore “only half noticed” Precht’s statement. At the same time, Lanz put the criticism into perspective. On closer inspection, Precht’s explanation is “a little bit right, a little bit wrong”.

Lanz and Precht feel pilloried

After an exchange with the best-selling author Deborah Feldman, who grew up among ultra-Orthodox Jews, he was able to say that although there is no religious ban on work in Judaism, in the ultra-Orthodox, work is dedicated exclusively to “the goal of the necessary maintenance”, but not “for one’s own enrichment or that enjoyment of earthly things”. Too much secular work is “viewed critically” because it can come at the expense of spiritual work.

Because of the modern achievement of social welfare, Lanz continued, citing the German-American writer, ultra-Orthodoxes were for the first time “confronted with the difficulty of classifying secular work as essential for religious reasons.” Because if it fails, famine doesn’t necessarily follow. For this reason, “parts of the ultra-Orthodox world” in Israel are also opting for religious studies “because they can no longer argue that work is necessary for survival.”

“We have a big problem in our media landscape,” complains Precht

Lanz and Precht recently denounced the media’s treatment of them. Lanz recalled the example of left-wing politician Gregor Gysi, who recently said the N-word on his show. As a moderator, he then corrected the linguistic slippage using a “trick” and did not cause a scandal, knowing that in Gysi’s case there was no racist sentiment behind it. Lanz and Precht both miss such fairness.

“We have the big problem in our media landscape of decontextualizing things in order to pillory them,” complained Richard David Precht. He spoke of a “bad custom,” a “kind of culture in which we shouldn’t treat each other.” Markus Lanz predicted: “In ten years we will sit there and lament the rifts that have arisen as a result of this type of discourse and look at each other in disbelief.”

Hank Peter

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