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Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler: Germans Lurching Toward Antisemitism

Isi Liebler, posted March 7, 2013

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, successive German governments have meticulously upheld their obligations to the Jewish people. Study of the Holocaust is a mandatory component of the German state education curriculum, Holocaust denial is classified as a crime and restitution commitments were honored and even exceeded.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is a genuine friend of the Jews and despite intense political pressures and occasional minor vacillations, has consistently supported Israel, describing its security as “part of my country’s raison d’etre”. However in recent years, as in other European countries, German public opinion has turned against Israel, perceiving it as the principal threat to global stability and peace. This hostility has increasingly assumed overt anti-Semitic tones.

There is growing resentment against Jews, who are blamed for imposing excessive emphasis on collective German national guilt for the Holocaust.

Anti-Jewish hostility is often expressed in the more ‘politically respectable’ demonization of the Jewish nation state, allegedly not related to anti-Semitism although the “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe” (OSCE) explicitly defines such behavior as anti-Semitic.

The German left has accused Israel of war crimes, occupation and racism and also engages in inverse Holocaust imagery, enthusiastically condemning Israel for allegedly behaving towards the Palestinians as its Nazi forebears did to the Jews.

When reproached for engaging in anti-Semitism, the left condemns the ‘global Zionist propaganda machine’ for seeking to deny Germans the right to criticize Israeli government policies.

These trends are fortified by the sizable Islamic migrant community – now numbering over four million - which aggressively agitates against Israel, utilizing obscene placards at demonstrations chanting “gas the Jews” or “death to the Jews”. Moslems are at the forefront of violence directed at identifiable Jews in urban areas, especially in Berlin, where some Jewish communal leaders are now recommending to avoid wearing kipot in public.

Yet, the government has welcomed the immigration of almost 200,000 former Soviet Jews and invested major funds to resurrect a vigorous Jewish communal life and foster Jewish education.

Despite receiving state subsidies, the Jewish leadership displays its independence and frequently speaks out if it considers the government is not fulfilling its obligations to the Jewish community or fails to act evenhandedly towards Israel.

However the intensification of extreme anti-Israeli hostility combined with a recent spate of disconcerting incidents has created angst within the Jewish community.

Last year, there was a traumatic national debate which assumed ugly anti-Semitic overtones after a judgment in Cologne ruled that male circumcision causes “bodily harm” and declared the practice illegal. The matter was only resolved following the direct intervention of Chancellor Merkel who initiated the passage of legislation legalizing circumcision.

In April 2012, in a provocative outburst, 84 year old Nobel Prize laureate Gunter Grass bitterly accused the Israeli government of seeking to obliterate the Iranian population. He warned that the Jewish state, which he considers ‘insane and unscrupulous’, represents the principal obstacle to peace in the region and called on his government to cancel delivery to Israel of the last Dolphin submarine.

Despite being discredited for having initially concealed that he had served as a member of the Nazi Waffen SS, Grass’s vicious attack on Israel, whilst condemned by numerous politicians and journalists, was enthusiastically endorsed by many Germans.

Shortly after that incident, the state-sponsored Berlin Jewish Museum invited Judith Butler, a notorious Jewish promoter of BDS against Israel, as a guest lecturer. Butler received enthusiastic applause from the 700-strong audience when, purporting to act in accordance with the highest Jewish moral values, she renewed calls to boycott Israel and ‘abolish political Zionism’ in order to create a bi-national Palestinian state.

To provide a platform for such an outspoken anti-Israeli activist at a state-sponsored Jewish Museum in Berlin is surely obscene but not unprecedented. Former Israeli communist Felicia Langer, lives in Germany where she condemns the German government for supporting Israel, constantly equates Israelis with Nazis, calls for Israeli leaders to be tried as war criminals, describes Israel as an apartheid regime and even praises Iranian President Ahmadinejad. In August 2009, German President Horst Kohler, who four years earlier had addressed the Knesset, shocked the Jewish community by honoring Langer with the Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s most prestigious award.

In 2010, despite protests from the Israeli Embassy, Frankfurt’s Mayor Petra Roth invited Alfred Grosser, a German-born Jew known to be frenziedly hostile to Israel, to give the annual Kristallnacht oration in the Paul’s Church. He used the occasion to draw parallels between the behavior of Israelis and Nazis and was lauded by the media.

Another ongoing scandal prevails at the German Center on anti-Semitism in Berlin, considered the most important German institute engaged with the subject. Until last year it was headed by Professor Wolfgang Benz, who received his PhD from Professor Karl Bosl, a former Nazi storm trooper who maintains an ongoing association with right wing extremist groups. To this day, Benz continues defending his mentor.

Benz equates Islamophobia with anti-Semitism, alleging that critics of Islamic practice are reminiscent of Nazi anti-Semites attacking the Talmud. He recently challenged the fact that the Muslim terrorist murders in Toulouse had an “anti-Semitic dimension”. He dismisses concerns about the Moslem Brotherhood as being reminiscent of anti-Semitic phobias like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and bizarrely complains that drawing attention to the fact that Moslems comprise 70% of Berlin prison inmates is comparable to Hitler’s ravings over “the fact that

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