Matthias Küntzel

Matthias Küntzel (born 1955), is a German author and a political scientist. He is a research associate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a member of the German Council on Foreign Relations DGAP, of the German Historical Association (VHD) and of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa ASMEA.


From 1984 to 1988, Küntzel was a senior advisor of the Federal Parliamentary Fraction of Germany’s Green Party. He was member of the Communist League (Kommunistischer Bund, KB) and part of the Anti-Germans movement.[1]

In 1991, he received his doctorate, summa cum laude, in Political Science at the University of Hamburg. His thesis Bonn & the Bomb. German Politics and the Nuclear Option (London: Pluto Press) was published in English in 1995.

In 2004, he has been named a research associate at the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2011, Matthias Küntzel was presented with the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Paul Ehrlich-Günther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award in Palm Beach, Florida. “Matthias Küntzel has a long and distinguished record in speaking out against anti-Semitism and warning his readers in his native Germany and elsewhere about the dangers posed by this age-old virus that has no known cure,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in presenting the award.[2]

Since 2001, his main field of research and writing have been anti-Semitism in current Islamic thinking, Islamism, Islamism and National Socialism, Iran, German and Western policies towards the Middle East and Iran. His essays and articles have been translated into twelve languages and published inter alia in The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, The Weekly Standard, Telos, Policy Review, The Jerusalem Post, Der Standard, Spiegel Online, Die Welt, Die Zeit and Internationale Politik.


In 2003, he delivered the keynote address at the Conference on "Genocide and Terrorism – Probing the Mind of the Perpetrator" at Yale University. In 2004, he was a panelist at the "Lessons & Legacies VIII International Conference on the Holocaust: From Generation to Generation" at Brown University.

In 2005, he discovered antisemitic tracts at the Iranian stands at the Frankfurt Book Fair: an incident he wrote about in the Wall Street Journal. In 2006 he joined the Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, serving until 2011. He was a panelist at the 2006 Paris conference "Les démocraties face au défi islamiste" ("The democracies in the face of the Islamist challenge"), organized by the Center for Security Policy and the Institut pour la Défense de la Démocratie.

In 2007, Telos Press (New York, NY) published his book Jihad and Jew-Hatred. Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11. In 2008, he presented "Jihad and Jew-Hatred in the USA" at numerous universities (Stanford University, Columbia University, UCLA, UC-Santa Cruz, UC-Irvine, SUNY-Buffalo, University of Maine, and the Cooper Union). He also spoke at conferences organized inter alia by the American Enterprise Institute, the Israel Project, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and at the “Global Forum For Combating Antisemitism” at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He participated in an international academic workshop on “Antisemitism in the 21st Century: Manifestations, Implications and Consequences”, organized by the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Museum.

In 2009, he spoke at the “London Conference on Combating Antisemitism”, organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, and published his book The Germans and Iran: The Past and Present of a Fateful Friendship (German publisher: Wolf Jobst Siedler, Berlin). In 2010 he became a guest commentator on Germany’s main public radio station, Deutschlandradio Kultur, and addressed the “Second Conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition on Combating Antisemitism (ICCA)” in Ottawa, Canada. In 2011, he received the ADL’s Ehrlich-Schwerin Human Rights Prize and spoke at the international scholars sonference on “Resurgent Antisemitism: Global Perspectives”, organized by the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University.

In 2012, he spoke on behalf of the Henry Jackson Society to Britain's House of Commons on the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, and at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Brussels on the current meaning of the Auschwitz day of remembrance. He was the main speaker at a rally against the award of the Adorno Award to Judith Butler, held in front of St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt.[3] The Germans and Iran was republished in Persian by Forough (Koln).[4] He also published Germany, Iran and the Bomb (LIT, Münster), which was also a reply to Günter Grass.[5] In 2013 he joined Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center at a press conference in Berlin about the anti-Semitic remarks of Jacob Augstein, a popular German journalist.[6]

Controversy over cancelled lecture at the University of Leeds

On March 14, 2007, Küntzel was due to address University of Leeds in England on the topic ‘Hitler’s Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East.’[7] The university's student Islamic society complained about what they called the lecture's "provocative" title and the University removed the words "Hitler" and "Islamic" with the title amended to read: "The Nazi Legacy: The Export of Anti-Semitism to the Middle East." However, several hours before the talk was due to take place, the talk was unexpectedly cancelled due to "security concerns," following protest e-mails from some of the university's Muslim students claiming the lecture was an "open racist attack".[8]

Dr. Küntzel said he had given similar addresses (at Yale University, as well as universities in Jerusalem and Vienna) around the world and there had been no problems. "I know this is sometimes a controversial topic," he said, "but I am accustomed to that and I have the ability to calm people down. It's not a problem for me at all. My impression was that they wanted to avoid the issue in order to keep the situation calm. My feeling is that this is a kind of censorship." Dr. Küntzel also said that the contents of emails described to him did not overtly threaten violence but "they were very, very strongly worded". He added: "It's stupid, because I also talk about Christian anti-semitism." Members of the German department at Leeds accused the university of "selling-out" academic freedom.[9]

Awards and honors

In 2007, Küntzel’s book Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2007 London Book Festival.[10]

In 2008, Küntzel’s book Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 won the Gold Award for Religion at the 12th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in Los Angeles.[11]

In 2011, Matthias Küntzel was presented with the Anti-Defamation-League’s (ADL) Paul Ehrlich-Günther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award.[2]

In 2011, Matthias Küntzel was (together with Colin Meade) the recipient of the Best Book Review Award of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.[12]


Publications (selection)

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Matthias Küntzel.


  1. Steffen, Michael: Geschichten vom Trüffelschwein. Politik und Organisation des Kommunistischen Bundes 1971 bis 1991, Berlin/Hamburg/Göttingen 2002, S. 338 f., nach Patrick Hagen: Die Antideutschen und die Debatte der Linken über Israel, Diplomarbeit 2004 in trend onlinezeitung, Fußnote 68
  2. 1 2,0B1623CA-D5A4-465D-A369-DF6E8679CD9E,frameless.htm
  6. Video on YouTube
  7. Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East, text of Küntzel's essay
  8. University is accused of censoring anti-Semitic Islam lecture by Sean O’Neill, Times Online, March 15, 2007
  9. John Steele (2007-03-15). "Freedom of speech row as talk on Islamic extremists is banned". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  12. Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2011, p.332
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