Germany is once again debating anti-Semitism. The current controversy was kicked off by two German-Muslim rappers, a convert, Felix Blume, fight name Kollegah, and a the born Muslim Farid Hamed El Abdellaoui, known as Farid Bang. Two “word acrobats” who were – despite their anti-Semitic lyrics – honoured with an ECHO, until very recently the most important German music award.
As always, Germany is struggling with its unholy legacy of the industrialized, millionfold murder of Jews. Although one would assume the country that conceived and carried out the attempted genocide of the European Jews should now by now what is anti-Semitic and what is not.
Germany’s efforts to investigate the persistent phenomenon of Jew hatred are sometimes blossoming in strange ways. In 2015 the German Bundestag set up an “Anti-Semitism commission” to trace the millennia-old resentment against Jews and “resolutely fight” Anti-Semitism. For this purpose, a “body of experts” was put together that did entirely without any Jews.
After considerable criticism, the Bundestag stated that the commission had not been composed according to “denominational affiliations”, but had only been guided by “technical criteria”. Obviously there are no Anti-Semitism experts of Jewish origin in the whole of Germany who would have met the strict “technical criteria” of the Bundestag. Imagine a commission on feminism without women or a body of experts on Islam without Muslims. This “birth defect” has meanwhile been corrected, whereby the Jewish exponents subsequently appointed to the body of experts have to live with the stigma of having been judged as technically inadequate at the first nomination.
The two rappers are basically just extras in this new German Anti-Semitism farce. Are they Anti-Semites? What else. This is proven, among other things, by Kollegah’s video “Apokalypse”, in which “evil” wears a ring with the Star of David and where after the “final battle” for Jerusalem only Muslims, Christians and Buddhists prevail. The Jews, the root of all evil, were efficiently texted away. Does it matter? Not really, because the two German rappers do not differ noticeably from the German average in their aversion against Jews. In this respect, it is also irrelevant that there should now be a “new beginning” for the ECHO, the figurehead of an industry that is considered by many as the one with the lowest moral and ethical standards. This self-flagellation seems trite and does little to curb Anti-Semitism in Germany.
The answer to the tenacious problem of German Anti-Semitism is found elsewhere, namely in the ambivalent attitude of official Germany towards Jews and Israel. After the end of the Second World War, the German governments failed to set binding guidelines regarding the tolerance of Anti-Semitism. On the one hand, Germany indulges in an obtrusive “culture of remembrance” with barely concealed sinner’s pride. At the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, the recently deceased historian Eberhard Jäckel even insisted that there are “peoples who envy us of this Memorial”. On the other hand, the Federal Government supports the separate labeling of Israeli products.
The Israel passage in the coalition paper of the new German Government considerably lacks sympathy for Jews and Israel as well. The Jewish state is criticized unilaterally, while Hamas terror, non-recognition and hate propaganda, which also lead to anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, are not addressed with a single word.
The Germans are assiduously installing “Stolpersteine” (memorial brass plaques in the pavement), holding commemorative days and building Memorials for the Jewish victims of their forefathers in order to prove to the world and themselves how exemplarily they deal with history.
At the same time, the German government pays more than 160 million euros a year to the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas, which demonstrably uses this money to pay the murderers of Israeli civilians and their families lavish pensions, which increase according to the number of deaths. The German government is aware of these payments, but is letting it be known that the terror pensions have “to a large extent the character of social welfare” and are representing “progress in the construction of the Palestinian state”.
There was a huge outrage in the German press that on the Israeli national holiday and commemoration day for the victims of the Holocaust, Yom Hashoa, the ECHO was given to two rapping Anti-Semites. However, when Chancellor Angela Merkel – on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – received the Holocaust denier and then Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi with military honors, it was acknowledged with a mere shrug by the media. Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, denigrated Jews in a video as “descendants of monkeys and pigs” and wanted to indoctrinate Egyptian children “to hate Jews”. His official media advisor, Fathi Shihab-Eddim, called the Holocaust a “joke” and publicly declared that Germany had not killed any Jews, but had rather deported them to the USA.
As always, politicians, artists and all kinds of celebrities fought their way through the thicket of opinion. Florian Drücke, chairman of the board of the German Federal Association of the Music Industry, who awards the ECHO, saw the prize “inflated” and “overwhelmed” by the debate. It is understandable to a certain extent that a functionary is unable to classify the current discussion. But whoever expects more sensitivity from renowned publisher and art historian Hubert Burda, married to Maria Furtwängler, the grandniece of conductor and Nazi collaborator Wilhelm Furtwängler, will be disappointed. In 2013 the Burda publishing house awarded a “BAMBI media award” for “Integration” to rapper Bushido, whose Twitter profile until a few days ago adorned an Israel map in the colours of the Palestinian flag – but without a trace of Israel. Bushido qualified for the Integration Award with lyrics like “You faggots will be gassed”, “A cock in the ass, a cock in the mouth”, “That doesn’t mean I won’t beat you ’til you’re bruised”, “I’ll tell you, kill them, and the bitch right along” (from the song “Dreckstück”/Piece of filth) or “Berlin will be hard again, because we flog every faggot”.
Even then there were protests ahead of the award show and Hubert Burda too referred to freedom of expression and art as well as to the “conscious breach of taboo” as a “stylistic device of rape”. Those who, like Burda and other apologists, invoke freedom of expression in spreading Anti-Semitism and glorifying violence should be reminded of the meaning of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of expression is only protected within the framework of other human rights. It therefore finds its limits when it violates other people’s honor or calls for their physical integrity or freedom to be violated. Racism and the glorification of violence are not covered by freedom of expression.
Journalist Dennis Sand from the German national daily newspaper “Die Welt” took a particularly absurd approach to explaining the “greatest and most vital youth culture in Germany”, which is apparently misunderstood by the mainstream media: the rappers are ” fictitious characters”, the texts “radically exaggerated” and “fantasies of violence simply taken for granted”. Farid Bang would therefore not want to have sexual intercourse with other men when he raps: “I fuck fanny pack rappers”. Bushido, too, doesn’t “really” want to shoot the vice president of the German Bundestag, Claudia Roth, “until she has holes, like a golf course”. All just a masquerade, the rappers being actors in a “verbalized action movie”.
One would like to answer Mr. Sand with “Deadly Masquerades”, a book by Franco Ruault about Julius Streicher, the editor of the Nazi newspaper “Der Stürmer”: “Never before had a person done such violence to the German language. It was Julius Streicher who brutalized the German language for his intentions and thus provided the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’ with a space in the imploding linguistic structure long before the concentration camps were established”. Now someone has to explain to Kollegah “why he may not be an Anti-Semite”, Sand concludes, then he would “be a better mouthpiece for tolerance and charity for the youth than any historian could ever be”.
The verbal violence of Rappers like Kollegah, Bang and Bushido, are jointly responsible for the almost daily attacks on Jews and Israelis in Germany by predominantly Muslim youths and for the bullying of Jewish pupils in German schools. The uninhibited verbal brutalization and spread of antisemitic stereotypes leads to real violence.
It is therefore all the more incomprehensible that corresponding educational school projects are neither funded by the Federal Government nor by the highly endowed party-related foundations or other wealthy institutions as a matter of priority. The foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ), founded by the German government and various companies that employed forced laborers during the Nazi regime, represented by Wanja Hargens, argues that it is no longer appropriate to see Jews merely as victims. It is no surprise that the EVZ survey “Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe today is there a connection?” comes to the fallacious conclusion: “Neither the analysis of existing data nor that of the interviews has established proof for a rise in antisemitism caused by recent immigration».
Ms. Di Matteo of the Robert Bosch Foundation informs by telephone that the “topic of National Socialism” and the “permanent excursions to Auschwitz” have now been “definitely checked off”. The Hertie Foundation, a partner of EVZ and one of Germany’s largest private foundations, which generated its exorbitant foundation assets of 800 million euros with the aryanized department stores of Jewish owner Hermann Tietz, has committed itself to the “integration of immigrant children and young people”, but without addressing the problem of Muslim anti-Semitism.
“In order for the positions of young people in particular to actually change, teachers, social workers and associations need better support,” demands Islamic scholar Michael Kiefer from Düsseldorf. “The basic phenomenon of migrant anti-Semitism has been known for years. So far, however, this finding has hardly produced any political concepts for action,” Kiefer continued. “Unfortunately, we have very few projects in the field of youth welfare that deal with this problem. What we need are projects that work specifically to strengthen and develop the capacity for dialogue and tolerance of migrant youths. This is without a doubt a major task for the future, especially in the big cities.”
While – based on German comedian Karl Valentin’s quip “Everything has already been said, but not yet by everyone” – all relevant media in Germany and abroad report that anti-Semitism is not only socially acceptable again in Germany, but is even award-winning, an important voice remains silent. While Chancellor and hobby reviewer Angela Merkel still felt compelled in 2010 to rate the book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany gets rid of itself) by SPD politician Thilo Sarrazin, a former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank, as “not helpful”, this time around music critic Merkel reigns in booming silence. This, in turn, seems only adequate for a federal government that in 2008 declared Israel’s security a “reason of state”, but whose Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier last year was the first German Federal President ever to pay tribute to the Jew murderer Jassir Arafat, for whom Israel’s security was evidentially of no concern, by laying a wreath on his grave.
In this atmosphere of governmental double standards, Anti-Semitism of all kinds falls on fertile ground, where the likes of Kollegah and Farid Bang can sound out their sales-promoting taboo breaks, with which they earn millions. A few decades after the Shoa, anti-Semitism is once again a business model in Germany.
This article was first published in the Basler Zeitung