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Inside Move: Teuton tumult over yak host

Probe stirs German-Jewish angst

The story of a combative TV talkshow host under investigation for alleged drug possession has been enough to whip the local media into a frenzy. But when the man is also VP of Germany’s Jewish Council and the son of parents saved from Nazi death camps by Oskar Schindler, it’s a real doozy — and one fraught with issues of cultural sensitivity.

Michel Friedman‘s style, which he describes as “sharp and merciless,” has made him one of Teutonic TV’s most polarizing figures. Acting on tips, police raided Friedman’s Frankfurt home and office, allegedly discovering three packets with traces of cocaine.

Though private recreational use of drugs in small quantities is permissible in Germany, the allegations have forced Friedman’s shows on pubcaster ARD off the air. The 47-year-old, who has not been charged, has declined to comment publicly and left the country.

While the talkmeister still enjoys strong support from local Jewish leaders, the conservative Christian Democratic Union, of which he is a member, is pressuring him to resign, at least until the allegations are cleared up.

Naturally, the public loves a celeb scandal. But the case has raised heated debates and essentially swept aside the German media’s unofficial ban on criticism of Jewish leaders.

According to a survey commissioned by weekly Stern, 52% of Germans no longer want to see Friedman as a talkshow host and commentator, while 36% say he should remain on TV.

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