This past week, I translated an article from the German newspaper, Berliner Morgenpost, on a recent study on anti-Semitism in Germany, the results of which were reported in the wake of this month’s ugly pro-Palestinian demonstration in the German capital. During the march, which consisted of about 300 people, chants of, “Death to Israel” were heard as well as that of at last one person who yelled, “Death to Jews” from a loudspeaker van. Such scenes are disgusting enough, but when they occur in Germany, the shock is magnified given that country’s history with National Socialism and the Holocaust. As a gentile American who served in the US Army in Germany in the 1960s (just outside of Nuremberg, no less) I am one who wants to believe that Germany today has become a decent country that is trying to atone (if that is possible) for the Holocaust. Recent events in the country call that into question. That is what I am trying to come to grips with.
My initial reaction to the above-mentioned Palestinian march in Berlin as well as the anti-Semitic incidents that have accelerated in the country with the flood of Muslim “asylum-seekers” into the country since 2015 has been to dismiss it all as the result of the insane asylum policy of Angela Merkel and her successor government in bringing in millions of people with a built-in hatred of Jews. I still hold to that belief, but the recent study I mentioned reminds me that it is a bit more complicated.
If we accept the notion (which I do) that history shows us that Jews are on the receiving end of hate from many directions and historically, for many reasons, then we can understand that some ethnic Germans are anti-Semites. Depending on what age group they fall into, it may be pro-Nazi thinking, resentment over Holocaust guilt, and plain old skin-head, neo-Nazi sentiment, apparently more widespread in the former East German (DDR) regions of the country.
In my view, the article in Berliner Morgenpost, if not the study itself, is carefully crafted, but what stands out is that it mostly concerns the Muslim community. Differentiations are made as to the degree of assimilation and other factors, as well as which Muslim segments are most affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as opposed to other anti-Jewish motivations.
There is also the requisite input from a local Muslim leader who talks about the need for “education” to fight against prejudices. But what the Muslim gentleman, as well as the Morgenpost article fails to address is the fact that anti-Jewish (and anti-Christian) sentiment is deeply embedded in Islamic Scripture and teaching. That is not to suggest that all Muslims hold hatred against Jews, but the references to Jews in the Koran and the hadith cannot be ignored. Still many prefer to do so. This appears nowhere in the report.
Having spent three years of my youth in Germany, I fully recognize that German society has its share of lowlifes. I condemn anti-Semites no matter where they come from or whatever their beef is. I still firmly believe that Germany has damaged itself in many ways by admitting millions of mostly young, male, Muslim men from places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, etc, who bring with them a thread of Jews which they learned at an early age in their home countries. It has set back Germany’s efforts to remake itself as a place of safety for Jews.
Germany is not alone in this respect. Far too many Western European countries have brought in so-called refugees, asylum-seekers, and flat out migrants who are making the lives of Jewish natives miserable. Why are so many Jews fleeing places like France, Sweden, and other countries? It is because they feel they have no future there and that the governments will not protect them from masses of newcomers who hate them.
Given its history, Germany cannot tolerate-even in the name of free speech- people who scream, “Death to Jews” on their city streets.