In the last two days, there was an outcry about comments made by Dr. Felix Klein, Germany’s Commissioner for the fight against Anti-Semitism. There are places in Germany, he said, where Jews are better advised not to openly wear a Kippa.
Is Dr. Klein practically right? Yes. A rabbi’s crushed jaw, a kippa-wearing guy hit with a belt, dozens of Jewish kids mobbed at school – a small excerpt of the ugly statistics – is enough to understand that anti-Semitism in Germany is a tangible threat. One that long crossed the border from verbal insults to physical attacks.
Is the “hide your identity” statement constructive? No. Better: “We fight these bastards day and night”, “We stand with you until the last bloody anti-Semite is defeated” or “non-Jews, go flood the streets wearing Kippot”. This is what Germany’s Jews and non-Jews should hear right now. And this is the right message to the brown mud. Whether right-extreme, Islamist, leftist or – yes – from the midst of German society.
But the outcry targets the wrong person. Dr. Klein is not just any government official doing his job. Few people are as clear in their views of Germany’s anti-Semitism problem, especially its modern mutation into anti-Zionism. He was a speaker on a German Israelcongress panel I moderated last November. His statements: he is 100% devoted to the fight against anti-Semitism. He condemned the distorted, anti-Semitism inducing way Israel is often depicted in German media. He called BDS a dangerous campaign for Germany. Seeking Israel’s destruction. This was long before last week’s Bundestag notion deeming BDS anti-Semitic.
So: should German Jews hide their Kippa?
No. They should train in Krav Maga.
A few days ago, I walked through Berlin’s Neukölln district. One of the ‘no go’ areas Dr. Klein referred to. I was on my way to a conference with a German Muslim friend. After a few steps in silence she nervously asked: “don’t you want to hide the Star of David on your necklace?” “No, I don’t.” She was silent for a moment, then she said: “Just so you know, I’ll defend you with my life”.
Civil courage, an unbreakable moral compass, solidarity and strength – these are the weapons Germany needs to overcome the brown monster in its midst. Alongside a well-budgeted, all-encompassing strategic concept that is yet to be developed.
A good opportunity to test these weapons is around the corner: on June 1st, Berlin again will become showplace of the Hezbollah-organized Al-Quds day. The marchers’ call to destroy Israel, their nasty anti-Semitic chants, their democracy-battering posters, so far did not convince authorities to put an end to this farce. Allowing Al-Quds day to take place in Berlin stands in direct contradiction to Angela Merkel’s claim that Israel’s security is part of Germany’s raison d’etre.
Looking aside, hoping for harmony, aiming at appeasement may be part of today’s German DNA. But so are consistency, logical thinking, and – looking at the many people who stand by Israel – courage. May these traits triple the number of German anti-Quds day protesters next week. May this be the last public feast of anti-Semitism on German soil.