Today the German Der Spiegel ran an interview with Charlotte Knobloch, president of the German Jewish Council. In her interview, she warns of growing resentment towards Jews:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: When you took office you said one of the main focuses of your work would be the struggle against right-wing extremism. Has the conflict in the Middle East worsened anti-Semitic attitudes in Germany?
Knobloch: It has, unfortunately. I see an absolutely hostile attitude towards Jews and Israel. Signs that read “Israel — Child Murderers” are being carried through the streets at demonstrations here, for example. The police don’t confiscate these placards. Persons that deal with the issue only marginally, or not at all, are influenced negatively. That’s the basis of this hostile attitude. You can find it everywhere. We’re currently organizing a fundraising concert, for example, and even there we get negative, anti-Semitic mail. No distinctions are made. We’re sucked into the current Middle East conflict one hundred percent, as Jewish citizens in Germany.
She points out people like Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the Minister of Economic Aid and Development who is an outspoken critic of Israel, calling for UN investigations into Israeli cluster bombs and slamming Israel for breaching international law in Lebanon, as “encouraging” the sentiment.
While anti-Semitism in Germany is certainly no surprise, Germany is one of the most stringent countries vis-a-vis Nazi-style rhetoric, criminalizing public displays of swastikas and pro-Holocaust speech.
But when the president of the German Jewish Council describes the mood there as “absolutely hostile” following the incursions into Lebanon and Gaza, and says “I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. It’s on a new level,” I think it behooves Jews of the world to at least glance at the situation of our German counterparts.
Crying out in reaction to an IDF-committed injustice is one thing. Doing so in front of swastika-concealing anti-Semites is something else entirely. Some people can’t make the distinction between “Jews” and “Israel.” Some people don’t even want to.