This article first appeared in Israel National News and republished here with the author’s consent.
GERMANY: SALIENT ANTISEMITISM CASES IN THE PAST DECADE
It is difficult to keep track of the major antisemitic incidents in those European countries where the hatred is massive. Concerning Germany, for instance, I have collected more than 200,000 words of notes covering less than two years.
One rapid way to gain some perspective on Germany’s antisemitic incidents in the past decade is to peruse the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) yearly reports about the top 10 worst global antisemitic incidents worldwide. These reports have been published since 2010.
These SWC reports help us to identify some of the most salient expressions of antisemitism in Germany in the past decade. The center left, Der Spiegel, is the largest-circulation weekly in Europe. In its online edition in 2012, contributor Jakob Augstein wrote “With backing from the U.S., where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.” This was a major lie as then US President Barack Obama kept following policies, which were often remote or even opposed to what Israel wanted.
Augstein added another lie: “Israel’s nuclear power is a danger to the already fragile peace of the world. This statement has triggered an outcry. Because it’s true. And because it was made by a German, Guenter Grass, author and Nobel Prize winner. That is the key point. One must, therefore, thank him for taking it upon himself to speak for us all.” The late Grass, who was a Nazi in his youth, was an extreme antisemitic defamer of Israel. Looking back on where wars have since taken place it is easy to see that Augstein was also a major defamer of Israel.
He went on: “Israel is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in its neighborhood. But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Haredim. They are not a small splinter group. They make up 10% of the Israeli population. They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.” Yet anybody marginally familiar with the reality knows that there is a huge difference between the genocide promoting Muslim fundamentalists of Hamas and Hezbollah and Israel’s charedim who abhor murder, which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments..
One more Augstein quote: “Gaza is a place out of the end of times….1.7 million people live there on 360 square kilometers. Israel incubates its own opponents there.” The truth is that it is Hamas which promotes genocide of Israelis. Israeli reactions to it are defensive. Der Spiegel is also responsible as it has widely distributed these lies and defamations of Israel.
The German Jewish author, Henryk Broder, who has testified as an expert in the German parliament about antisemitism in the country labeled Augstein a “little Streicher.” He added: “Jakob Augstein is not a salon antisemite, he’s a pure antisemite…an offender by conviction who only missed the opportunity to make his career with the Gestapo because he was born after the war. He certainly would have had what it takes.”
In 2014, on November 10th, The German Left party invited notorious Israel-bashers, Max Blumenthal — listed on the SWC 2013 Top10 — and David Sheen to present an “expert talk” in the Party’s meeting room in the Bundestag, the day after the commemoration of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom when the Nazis burned Jewish synagogues across Germany. Blumenthal often casts Zionism as racism and conflates alleged Israeli misdeeds with Nazi imagery.
That was too much for then top party leader, Gregor Gysi, who canceled the use of the Party’s meeting room. The incident came to be known as “Toiletgate” because Gysi was forced to barricade himself in a bathroom to escape the wrath of Blumenthal and Sheen. This incident highlighted the ongoing efforts to demonize Israel by a group of extreme anti-Israel MPs led by Inge Höger and Annette Groth. Both of these parliamentarians were onboard the controversial 2010 Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla and upon their return to Berlin were hailed by many of their party’s MPs.
The SWC wrote that Groth, Höger and Left party official Claudia Haydt and MP Heike Hänsel – as organizers and participants – played a crucial role in stoking hatred of Israel during the “Toiletgate” scandal. All were present at the Blumenthal/Sheen talk. They are a part of a sizable group of hardcore anti-Israel Left party MPs. In response to the “Toiletgate” scandal, a petition signed by the reform wing of The Left party MPs, regional politicians and members stated: “By stoking obsessive hatred of and demonizing Israel, members of our party in positions of responsibility are promoting antisemitic patterns of argument and a relativization of the Holocaust and the German responsibility for the extermination of millions of European Jews.”
From the 2016 SWC report: Leaders of the local German Teacher’s Union (GEW) in Oldenburg called for a total boycott of Israel. In September, the Oldenburg GEW local published a pro-BDS article by Christoph Glanz, a public school teacher and fanatic opponent of the Jewish State. Glanz, who has tried posing as a Jew to avoid charges of antisemitism called for the eradication of the State of Israel and relocation of its Jews to southwestern Germany.
In 2019, the most extreme antisemitic event was the failed attack on the synagogue in the German city Halle. Tens of Jews praying in that synagogue on Yom Kippur – Judaism’s holiest day – miraculously escaped certain injury or death at the hands of a neo-Nazi as the attacker failed to break down a security door outside a synagogue in Halle, Germany. After failing to enter the synagogue, Stephan Balliet, 27, armed with a sub-machine gun and explosives, killed 2 civilians nearby and injured 2 others. Balliet admitted that he was motivated by his hatred of Jews. In his manifesto, he stated, “Kill as many anti-Whites as possible, Jews preferred.”
From the 2019 report: Germany is in the midst of an 18-month stint on the UN Security Council. Its UN Ambassador, Christoph Heusgen made the SWC Top ten list in 2019. He created an uproar after word spread regarding the number of anti-Israel votes he has cast, but above all by his equating 130 rockets fired by terrorist organization, Hamas, at Israeli civilians in one week in March, with the Jewish state’s demolition of terrorists’ homes.
Heusgen declared: “We believe that international law is the best way to protect civilians and allow them to live in peace and security and without fear of Israeli bulldozers or ‘Hamas rockets.’ Bild, Germany’s best-selling daily, accused Heusgen in an editorial, of “pure malice” against the Jewish State. Heusgen cast 16 anti-Israel votes at the UN in 2018, abstaining once. In 2019, he voted for nine anti-Israel resolutions, including one labelling Jerusalem’s holiest sites as “Palestinian Occupied Territory,” while abstaining three times and opposing only one anti-Israel resolution.
This is much less than one percent of my notes on antisemitism in Germany. Yet it very succinctly shows that the country is far from succeeding in eradicating antisemitism. The publication of Augstein’s article by Der Spiegel, the boycott-promoting teachers union and Heusgen’s comparison of Israel and Hamas reflect how this hatred has permeated and is alive in the German mainstream.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He has been a strategic advisor for more than thirty years to some of the Western world’s leading corporations. Among the honors he received was the 2019 International Lion of Juda Award of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research paying tribute to him as the recognized leading international authority on contemporary antisemitism. His main book on the subject is: The War of a Million Cuts The struggle against the Delegitimization of Israel and the Jews and the Growth of New Antisemitism.