This is an open letter written to the Goethe Institute of German Culture, and the Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tel Aviv regarding their upcoming event titled “Understanding the Other’s Pain” scheduled to be held on November 13th.
I am writing to you today as a citizen of Germany, as a Jew, and as the descendant of 4 survivors of the Shoah.
Let me begin by saying that I am grateful for the work done by the Goethe Institute in maintaining the connection between my motherland and the fatherland. My family, despite their experiences in Theresienstadt and in exile, remained proud Germans and never abandoned their German heritage.
So then, it comes to the cause for this letter, the event entitled “Understanding the Other’s Pain” to be held on November 13th.
The Shoah is a sensitive subject for all Jews and, we are approaching a time where the last survivors who remember their stories will have passed. The responsibility for preserving the sanctity and the memory of the 6 million Jews who were murdered now increasingly falls on their descendants, with the nations involved, and with the world at large.
The Jewish community has faced increasing challenges which have been well documented in recent years, with everything from Covid responses to Animal Husbandry being compared to the Holocaust in a way which is inappropriate and hurtful.
One of the cruelest current manifestations of this which has become common today is the allegation that Israel is a Nazi state, and that the Jews committed a Holocaust against the Palestinians (or 50 Holocausts as some have claimed, which was appropriately condemned by German officials at the time).
There is no room for comparing the systematic murder of 6 million human beings, with the displacement of 700,000 other human beings, and the continued efforts to do so is harmful, hurtful, and significantly undermines the connection between Israel and Germany which the Goethe Institute was created to foster. Furthermore, actively ignoring the pain of the displacement of nearly 800,0000 Jews from Arab countries who were also displaced during the same period and neglecting their suffering in total is culturally insensitive and historically inaccurate.
To add insult to this injury, the event being held at the Embassy of Germany in Israel (legally: on German soil), it is also being held in the name of Rosa Luxemburg. Rosa Luxemburg would not have approved of this exhibit. It is outrageous to abuse the memory of a Jewish woman, murdered in cold blood by German Nationalists in 1919 to promote the comparison and thus equation of human suffering when it is so obviously incomparable.
This exhibit, no matter how well intended, is likely to feed further violence and animosity by those who proclaim that the Palestinians are forced to suffer for the genocide of the Jews by Germany and Europe. Going on with this event will be a painful breach of trust and a provocation especially after the many statements made in the name of Germany regarding the safety of Israel and Jews being, “Staatsräson“
I submit to you that this event should not be allowed to proceed, certainly not with even the tacit support of the Embassy of Germany or the Goethe Institute, both of whom would be violating their core mission by participating in such an event.
I hope that, as representatives of Germany, you will honor the eternal vow of “Never Again” and prevent this gross misrepresentation of history from being legitimized by your efforts.