Germany’s Nazi past clings to it like a bat. Germans are justifiably shaken by a rise in anti-Semitism. In a May 2018, article; Griff Witte and Luisa Beck of the Washington Post, wrote an eye-opening report on the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany. If it were any other place on earth, we would probably nod, blame the far right, and turn to the next page. But anti-Semitism in Germany is like a resurgence of the plague. Frightening. Germany has lived under the shadow of the Holocaust for over 70 years. Like Lady Macbeth’s “out damned spot”, the Holocaust can never be washed away, wished away, explained away, or forgotten away. It is a permanent stain of shame each German generation irrevocably inherits. When anti-Semitism in Germany is reported, it makes international news. Why is Germany experiencing an unprecedented onslaught of attacks and provocations against Jews? What has set the fuse off?
A few weeks ago in Berlin, a young man wearing a kippah was vehemently attacked and beaten up by another young man; a Syrian. Berlin took notice and thousands of people from all walks of lives and religions (including Muslims) put on kippahs and took to the streets in solidarity with the Jewish community. In the past if you had to ask any German on the street who was to blame for anti-Semitism; a finger would point directly to the far right. After all they are the self proclaimed racists. No surprises there. The surprise is that the latest attacks were not by neo-Nazi far right racist kooks.
Sergei Lagodinsky, a member of the Jewish community in Berlin, remarked that the attacks have not only increased in number but in violence. When Sigmount Ksburg, the anti-Semitic commissioner for the Jewish community in Berlin. viewed the footage of the Berlin attack, he could not believe that anyone could hate another human being with so much venom. What is disconcerting is the mold breaking old concept that racism and anti-Semitic hatred is the calling card of only the far right. The recent attackers have morphed from a run-of-the-mill Nazi or wannabe German redneck, to the immigrant. A significant correlation has been made between the rise in attacks to the influx of immigrants; primarily in the cities. A far cry from Merkel’s vision of an accepting, humane, and loving united Germany. She went alone against all critics who somehow did not think that admitting a million refugees (mostly males) from hard core Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan would be such a good idea. Karma caught up with Frau Merkel; and last week she finally capitulated and admitted that many of the immigrants had traditionally anti-Semitic backgrounds, and brought “another form of anti-Semitism in the country”. Really? It took you two years to figure that one out? With due respect to Madame Merkel: the problem is more complicated than that.
What misleads reports and statistics on anti-Semitic attacks in Germany is the lack of concrete data and the “unknown” factor. German authorities admit that It is easy to determine a trend when they can identify the perpetrators; but when the perpetrators are unknown; they chalk it down to a far right incident. Incoming reports and data parameters on who is most likely to be guilty of anti-Semitic attacks were established a long time ago. Until recently, the far right were the most likely candidates for anti-Semitism. But the playbook has changed. Authorities say that today it would be highly unlikely the far right is responsible for these attacks; especially in large cities. Far right and neo-Nazi nuts seem to prefer quiet outlining areas and small towns. Easier to assemble and operate in; I would presume. It is the large Jewish and Muslim communities that live in large cities. The Central Council of Muslims (CCM) recognizes the Muslim immigrant problem and is taking pains to educate new Muslim arrivals on German history and culture. Unfortunately, the CCM has raised another red flag. They have noticed that a few Muslim youth who have been living in Germany for a while, are being swayed by anti-Semitic rhetoric disguised as empathy for the Palestinian cause in the Middle East. CCM president Aiman Mazyek, believes that everyone deciding to live and remain in Germany must learn about the Holocaust and integrate that thought into their lives. It is part of the German psyche. He unabashedly thinks that because most of them come from countries without western freedoms; a trip to a concentration camp might instill some empathy and do them a world of good!
But the new anti-Semitism is more subtle and insidious. The well-meaning integration in German schools is also going awry. Children have reported taunts and bullying on school grounds and the word “Jew” called out in disdain. The bad and the ugly continues as two well known German rappers sing about bodies “more defined than those of Auschwitz inmates”. As one would think and hope; an uproar ensued when Germany’s most prestigious music award was about to be given to these two racist clowns. The ceremony was unceremoniously cancelled. You think?
Across the pond in the United States things aren’t any better. In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents went up by 89% on university and college campuses. Was it the far right? The far right was busy marching and raising havoc in the South. It was the intellectual racist organization: BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). This vile organization has infiltrated faculty and student bodies across the country. A torid reminder of anti-Jewish business and establishment propaganda in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy; BDS attempts to justify boycotts against Israel and Jews. They organize anti-apartheid days and weeks on campuses accusing Israel and Jews of being “white” colonials; bent on taking over the middle east and causing Palestinian genocide. If challenged, they will say that they are anti-Zionist not anti-Jewish. They hide behind another organization called Students for Justice in Palestine. Do not be fooled by that title. When Assaf Weiss, a Jewish graduate student at Columbia University, decided to find out for himself what BDS 101 was about; a member of Students for Justice in Palestine fervently “justified” attacks on Jews as retaliation for the “choking” Palestinians for 69 years. Students stood up and cheered. Mr. Weiss took his concern to Columbia authorities; who were very blasé’ about the hateful rhetoric because they did not think it presented any “clear” danger to anyone. I guess one has to be physically assaulted for being a Jew before Columbia University sees clearly that there is danger. And parents have to starve to afford sending their kids to this intellectual dump! I digress.
Germans have come to terms with their legacy and have accepted the world’s condemnation of their sordid past. They had to forge a path between freedom of speech and laws forbidding hate speech. Most cities in Germany have passed anti-BDS laws. Although they are always prepared to deal with their own home grown anti-Semitism, they were not prepared for the imported kind. In January, 2018, the German government introduced a bill that would deport any immigrant guilty of anti-Semitism. The bill will also cover vetting immigrants from major anti-Semitic Arab and African nations. Germany is done playing. German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said it best: “Every criminal act motivated by anti-Semitism is one too many and a shame for our country”. Could not have said it better myself.
Witte G, & Beck L. May 4, 2018. (Anti-Semitism rises with refugee influx in Germany) Washington Post. Stars and Stripes.
Weiss A. March 26, 2018. (Where BDS Goes, Antisemitism follows) The Jerusalem Post
Butcher R. January 7, 2018. (Germany could deport antisemitic migrants under new laws) Independent