Germany’s strange fight with antisemitism

As the rate of anti-Semitic incidences in Western Europe and North America and their degree of seriousness have been going up, so have the number of governmental national coordinators or agents to fight antisemitism. Even the European Union now has a commission to do that.

And of course, where so many coordinators, agents and commissions (hereafter “co-ordinators”) exist, the World Jewish Congress gets into its customary act of organising international summits to bring all these folks together with the international envoys of world-wide Jewish communities to address the matter and discuss various strategies to fight the evil. The most recent of such gathering, attended by over 12 countries, was hosted by Romania in Bucharest on June 18th inst.

The meeting  described  as the “Inaugural Summit of antisemitism envoys and the co-ordinators ” will become a yearly event.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister of Sweden, a country reputed for its generous reception and treatment of refugees, faced with traumatic  antisemitic actions of some of the refugees has also decided to convene this summer an international conference on antisemitism, presumably, with the object of devising some sort of a concerted international plan of action to fight the evil.

Fighting antisemitism in Europe

At the Inaugural Summit, Katharina von Schnurbein the first co-ordinator of the E.U.s commission to fight antisemitism informed the participants that despite the increases in the rate of antisemitism in numerous countries, in the last three years important progress had been made as matters moved from the acknowledgment of the problem to formulating programs to fight it. From this alleged important progress, she highlighted two in particular:

First, in 2016, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Microsoft signed the code of conduct formulated by her Commission, which requires these four organisations to delete within 24 hours the majority or bulk of hate discourses which are illegal.  The rate of compliance with this obligation increased from 28% in 2017 to 72% by February 2019.In the meantime, presumably hate discourses which are legal under the heading of freedom of speech and academic freedom continue to be published unabated. In the meantime, the nature of the relationship between this increasing compliance rate and the increasing rate of antisemitism simply raises more troubling questions.

Second, in 2016, the European Parliament adopted the “legally non-binding the international definition of antisemitism” formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and so did a number of individual countries, including Germany.

I suggest that this is at best a non–event as the adoption of this definition is unlikely to do much, if any, good, as evidenced by the fact that these adoptions have not caused a diminution in the rate of antisemitism. As I propose to show below, if anything, the definition has been honoured in its breach with significant adverse effects.

At all events,  Von Schnurbein concluded her presentation by conceding that, at the end of the day, the effectiveness of [governmental and] European initiatives to fight antisemitism must be determined in terms of their success in lowering the incidence of antisemitism.

The issue

All said and done then, what is the likelihood that Europe in general and Germany in particular will witness such a success?

Predictions

I predict that, unless the European Union as a bloc  and in the matter at hand, Germany, radically change their domestic approach to fighting antisemitism as well as their geo-political  policies and  practices  adverse to Israel,

a)the rate of antisemitism in the E.U and specifically in Germany will continue to climb both numerically and in terms of the gravity of the incidents,  and

b)at all events, in the unlikely event that these rates decrease at some point down the years, by that time, the rates will be so high as to make such a decrease inconsequential for all practical purposes.

The point of departure: Angel Merkel’s solemn declaration

In 2018, the Chancellor, visiting Yad Vashem for a second time, wrote the following in the guestbook: “Nearly eighty years ago, during Kristallnacht pogroms on the 9th of November, the Jewish people of Germany were confronted with hate and violence in an unprecedented manner. What followed was the unparalleled crime that ruptured civilization, the Shoah. It is from this point that Germany’s everlasting responsibility to remember this crime and oppose antisemitism, xenophobia, hate and violence arises.” On another occasion, she went so far as to describe this responsibility as Germany’s duty to insure the security of Israel.

An old German proverb

As I was thinking about the ways in which the German government deals with antisemitism, by happenstance I came across, ironically enough, this old German proverb: “Talking is easier than doing and promising than performing”. To bring the proverb up to date in the light of the  contemporary facts on the ground, it can be legitimately be rephrased to read: “Talking is easier than doing [the right thing]; making empty gestures than making meaningful ones, and promising than performing.”

Did the Chancellor forget this proverb, or in fact, where the fight against antisemitism is concerned, does she take it to heart to demonstrate its truth, by limiting herself to talking; making empty or ineffective gestures and promising while forgetting or failing to perform the solemn undertakings she gave on numerous occasions, the last being in 2018, where foreign policy considerations demand it?  Based on the evidence, the second alternative seems to be the case.

To put it differently, the fundamental problem with the Germany’s fight against antisemitism, like that of the E.U and other member countries, is that the Merkel government goes through the motions of fighting antisemitism, to use a phrase of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, by speaking with a forked tongue or on both sides of their faces while acting with one foot tripping the other or while both feet are moving in opposite directions.

I. On the domestic front: Globalism and humanitarianism

The German government under Angela Merkel has been a fierce advocate of globalism in order to replenish the country’s faltering supply of manpower, while also seeking to demonstrate the humanitarian instincts of the country still carrying the stain of the Holocaust.  The combined effect of these two sets of considerations led the Chancellor to institute an open doors policy which resulted in the intake of millions of refugees and economic immigrants since 2015 notwithstanding the warnings of the German security services about the serious negative impacts this would have on Germany’s social fabric, peace and order. The anticipated negative impacts did materialise while two years later, the Chancellor playing the ignorance card, claimed to have discovered the fact which she surely must have known: the existence of strong antisemitism among vast number of the Muslim refugees.

Notwithstanding these facts, in 2018, globalist Merkel gleefully adhered to the U.N.’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. In Germany, in the light of the well-established demographic patterns concerning the national, ethnic and religious composition of the incoming refugees and other types of migrants to date, the scope of the problem of antisemitism associated with them are apt to increase both quantitatively and qualitatively, on an ongoing basis well into the future.

Needless to say, all the segments of the German society did not and do not espouse globalism nor consider its impact through the generous refugee intake and treatment processes to be in the least beneficial for the German society and instead see it as the imposition of a hostile burden on the body politic of the country. In the result, the government’s  migration policies re-kindled the dormant German xenophobia powerfully expressed by the extreme right wing nationalist and neo-Nazi movements as well as leading to the formation of the Alternative for Deutschland  (AfD) party,  which in my opinion has been  inaccurately labelled as an ultra/ extreme right-wing party by the government, the left wing parties as well as by the formal organisation of the German Jewish organisation on the grounds that it is both Islamophobic and antisemitic . I believe, Daniel Pipes, more accurately describes it as one of the “civilizationist” parties of Europe.

In the result, the identification of the sources of antisemitism in Germany and the nature and scope of this antisemitism has turned into an almost perpetual volleyball match pitting the globalists, the socialists and the extreme leftists against the extreme right wingers identified above, with the former defending their turf as champions of antisemitism by charging the latter for being the major cause of antisemitism.

At all events, I submit that by now, Germany’s globalism, as indeed that of many other members of the E.U has become, in some measure, synonymous with globalist antisemitism and a key trigger of domestic antisemitism.

II. On the geopolitical diplomatic front

  1. Honouring the IHRA definition of antisemitism in its breach.
    Among many others, one type of antisemitism is expressed by holding all Jews responsible for the alleged abominations committed by Israel and the Israeli society; hence transferring the hatred of Israel to the Jews of the Diaspora and acting out this hatred. It is precisely in order to fight against this kind of antisemitism that the IHRA incorporated it into its definition of antisemitism.

After adopting the IHRA definition with great fanfare, the German government nevertheless carried on with its geopolitical diplomacy in the Middle-East in a manner that, in effect, reads out or disassociates  the derivative  form antisemitism from the classical types of antisemitism directed to the Jews of the Diaspora by condemning the latter types while  acting towards Israel, in a manner indifferent at best and inimical to the existence and security of Israel by condemning its actions in Area C of the West Bank despite of the fact that these are in accord with the terms of the Oslo Accord, demanding it to make land concessions to the Palestinian Authority without getting any benefit in return and in the process ignoring Israel’s security requirements.

This half-clever stratagem was not lost on the clever antisemites in Germany and elsewhere as they proceed to imitate the government’s stratagem by disclaiming the charge of being antisemitic by claiming that they have nothing against individual Jews and their hostility and hatred is directed solely to the illegitimacy and to the devastatingly destructive policies of the State of Israel. Needless to say a large segment of the refugees in Germany does not even bother to make such disclaimers.

In this regard, curiously enough the successive Merkel governments have never taken to task the German ultra-left wing politicians whose hostility to and hatred of Israel and of its Jewish supporters in the West for breaching the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

  1. Two volley-ball games

Does Hezbollah have one or two distinct and separate heads?

This game called for the German Federal Parliament to vote in favour of a motion introduced by the AfD to declare the whole of the Hezbollah movement (as opposed to only its military branch) as a terrorist group, based on irrefutable facts and in keeping with the policies of 13 Western and Middle-Eastern countries including Muslim ones that declared the entire Hezbollah organisation to be a terrorist one.

Notwithstanding a state security services report about the increase in the number of Hezbollah agents and their activities in Germany, not to mention in other countries of the E.U, the motion was defeated overwhelmingly by the government that declared the AfD’s initiative to be based on its Islamophobia and by all the other parliamentary parties. As matter of political expediency, those who voted against the motion which undermined Germany’s foreign policy in the Middle-East, made sure to defeat it on more than one ground by pointing out to the technical and procedural defects of the motion.

Since, the presence Hezbollah agents and its  activities, among others, such as raising funds for the organisation and working with the local sympathisers of or believers in the movement and recruiting new ones, already contribute to the rise of the rates of antisemitism in Europe as evidenced by deadly attacks on Jews, on the available evidence it is reasonable to assume that the defeat of the motion will cause a further increases in the rates of antisemitism as well as to the gravity of the antisemitic offences.

Hence, so much for Germany’s fight with antisemitism in this case, despite Merkel’s the pious repeated declarations about the nature of Germany’s responsibilities on this score.

Strangely enough, German Jews,  who potentially stand to suffer the most from the defeat of the motion, as is the case throughout the Diaspora, being Court Jews, were unable to see and grasp a golden opportunity to support a legislative initiative and seek broad parliamentary support to secure  the  adoption of the motion, an objective which surely must have been high on their political agenda  or in the alternative, relying on the motion, to put some pressure the government to comply with the substance of the motion.

Instead, President Dr. Josef Schuster, the head of the community’s formal organisation, went on to psychoanalyse AfD’s initiative and pontificate that

“The AfD bill aiming at a ban of Hezbollah is, in my opinion, not a means to help the cause but a translucent manoeuvre to counter Muslims. It takes its place alongside a range of existing attempts to blame Muslims alone for anti-Semitism, for attacks and terror against Jews and Israel As long as the AfD does not disassociate itself from party officials with anti-Semitic views, from attempts to relativize the Shoah and from right-wing extremists, it cannot be a legitimate player in the political field in the eyes of the Jewish community in Germany”.

Hence for Dr. Schuster, if as a result of the defeat of this motion antisemitism strengthens and the sense of communal and personal security of its members are adversely affected, so be it.

Should Germany change its anti-Israeli voting patterns in international bodies?

Next, the Free Democrats party submitted its motion to change Germany’s pattern of voting in favour of anti-Israeli motions brought before international bodies .Besides its members, motion,  being supported only by the vilified AfD members, it failed. The very next day Germany voted in favour of a motion to the effect that Israel is to be blamed for the mental health problems experienced by the “so-called” Palestinians.

III.And the story goes on

Iran I

In order to alleviate the adverse economic impact of President Trump’s sanctions on Iran,- a country that finances the military  operations  of Hezbollah, the terrorist operations of Hamas and another such group in Gaza, equips all of them with the lethal weapons  used to attack Israel,  kill its inhabitants, destroy habitations, forest and farmland that continuously promises to wipe-off Israel, Merkel along some of its EU partners devised a system to defeat some of the sanctions while wholly disregarding the security of Israel.

Iran II

Merkel and some of its EU partners, also continue to disregard the mounting evidence that Iran is currently not complying with the terms of the agreement concerning the agreed- upon limitations on its activities towards developing an atomic bomb and undermine President Trump’s initiatives on this matter, despite their knowledge of the apocalyptic scenario faced by Israel in the event Iran succeeds in building one or more of such bombs.

Palestinian terrorism

When was the last time, Merkel publicly and forcefully condemned the pay for slay model of terrorism financed by the Palestinian Authority and took specific action to force the P.A. to cease and desist on this score? There was no first time.

Securing a peace treaty between the Palestinian Authority and Israel

It did not take long after the announcement of the impending publication of the Trump peace plan, for Merkel to come up with the idea of organising a peace conference to formulate a competing alternative plan.  In the interim, through the E.U, she refuses to co-operate with and assist the President in managing the introduction of his plan in the most effective manner conducive to productive negotiations between the parties, assuming such is possible on the P.A. side, unless that is, the President’s plan incorporates the key points of the E.U’s morbid and moribund plan which seeks to exact from Israel concessions that would jeopardise its safety and security

The bottom line

Merkel will not undertake to do anything that would alienate the refugee and migrant population of the country who have already caused her and continue to cause her a lot of serious political headaches, through radical and/or violent action not to mention the potential political problems that may be caused by those who have the right to vote in elections.

At the end of it all, I do not think Merkel is the right person to fight antisemitism. While her policies and practices will not result in a successful fight against antisemitism in Germany, they may well result in ultimately producing a Germany endowed with gentler version of the national-socialism brand of antisemitism. Now you may say, as you most probably will say, this is nonsense. It is insane. Well, prior to Kristallnacht, the German Jews said  thought the same way about National Socialism and Hitler.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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