Mood in Germany Towards Jews: "Absolutely Hostile"

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.

14 thoughts on “Mood in Germany Towards Jews: "Absolutely Hostile"

  1. So what you’re saying is “always back the Israeli govenment, do what it may, because the antisemites don’t make a distinction”? Thanks. I’d rather take my chances with the antisemites.

  2. There is no difference between Jews and Israel. Jews in the Diaspora should stand united with Israel!
    The issue isn’t that these anti-semites can’t differentiate between Jews and Israel, it is that they are anti-semites who manipulate and are manipulated and are intent on destroying Jews and therefore Israel.
    They hated Jews before the modern State of Israel. The PLO existed before we were in Judea & Samaria. Get with the program, people. They hate us irrespective of what the IDF does.
    Germans weren’t goosestepping in 1943 because of what the IDF did in Gaza. Stop blaming Bush/Blair/Howard/Israel for vicious Arab/Muslim/Left Wing behaviour! The Left is the new Right. Be afraid!
    Gee…I feel better now.

  3. Would *you* get up and speak against Israel knowing that there were throngs of angry citizens of your country ready to perform all types of hate crimes? Would you say that the far-right (and far-left) parties are only calling for UN Resolution complicity?
    Just like with Jyllands-Posten and the Muhammad cartoon fiasco, for everything one has a right to say, one has a responsibilty as to how and when to say it.

  4. Amit can beat the shit out of a straw man. We criticise Israel, but out of love for it. We don’t criticise Israel to express hate for it. There is a difference and it is pretty tranparent. I speak out againt Israel-bashing anti-Semites because I know there are too many like Amit who cower in the face of anti-Semitism. Stand up and join us at the front lines Amit, we can take a beating for standing up for the Jewish people. Can you? There is a world full of wolves out there. Are you a sheep or a sheep dog? Too many sheep, and some of us will get eaten.

  5. How does reflexively defending Israel contribute to people distinguishing between Israel and the Jews?
    If criticism of Israel is hostility toward the Jews then why should people make the distinction?

  6. I can’t rightly take Ms. Knobloch’s opinion on anti-Jewish attitudes in Germany seriously when the only evidence she cites is a sign that, as inflammatory as it is, clearly takes issue with Israel and not Judaism. She is failing to make the relevant distinction which she accuses others of overlooking, and in doing so she is serving to perpetrate the stereotype which she claims to contest. Resolving anti-Jewish bigoty obviously isn’t her objective here.

  7. I’m absolutely against any sort of anti-Semitism, whether on the left, right, or from religious nuts. But this piece may be a tad alarmist.
    “Signs that read “Israel — Child Murderers” are being carried through the streets at demonstrations here, for example.”
    Unfortunately this is no different from the loony left in France, the U.K. or even the U.S. Plus, given Germany’s experience with Communism and the loony left (RAF) first-hand, I don’t think these parties do that well in elections. They do better in France.
    I read an article in the Economist recently re: a poll concerning the recent escalation of violence in Lebanon and they said out of all the European countries German popular opinion is the most favorable towards Israel. More favorable than the U.K., France or Italy and much more favorable than Spain. The Spanish loony leftists are the worst. For example, ETA has good relations with Islamic terrorist organizations.

  8. Speaking as someone living in the UK, I an tell you that whilst you may read the article as alarmist I can tell you that the concerns expressed are very real and quite valid.
    To wit, the leftist protestors were given march licenses during the Lebanon conflict and were seen carrying placards which read things like ‘We Are All Hezbollah Now’, ‘Death to Israel’, etc. The protestors were also protected by the Metropolitan Police during the march.
    However, when Jewish organisations applied for licenses to march in support of Israel the licenses were denied as the personal safety of marchers could nt be guaranteed.
    Regrettably we don’t have to look across the channel here in the UK when looking for examples of anti-Semitism. Think what you will about Israel, take expection with her policies, label yourself a ‘post-Zionist’ all you please. I support your right to do so. But please remember that your actions have a direct effect on Jews around the world, whether you like it or not.

  9. This is nonsense.
    A couple of thousand people attended these marches, not millions. And if Knowbloch and her colleagues get some unfriendly or anti-Semitic Emails it still doesn’t add up to more than a small minority of actual anti-Semites.
    I understand very well that she doesn’t want to see any of this kind of thing, and sees it as a symptom for general hostility towards Jews, but that stil doesn’t make it a fact.

  10. Well, being as I just got back from Berlin I thought I’d weigh in.
    First off, I think that Knobloch is being a BIT unfair. The protests against Israel were mostly by Berlin’s Turkish and especially large Lebanese populations. It wasn’t a whole lot of native Germans out on the streets chanting “death to Israel”, etc. How do i know this? 1. I worked 2 minutes from the protest and caught some of it, 2. I ate falafel at a place that was advertising the event in Arabic and German, and I know people in the Lebanese community were pretty worked up about it. But the average German would much rather protest the German entrance into the congo or the falling pay for Doctors.
    That being said, the situation in Germany is not good. I wrote earlier about the NPD on one of my blogs, and they are picking up steam. I would never consider wearing a kippah outside shul without a baseball cap over the top, i forgot to take mine off after shul and got some awful, awful looks. But part of that is that it was Kreuzberg.
    Anyhow, one can be jewish and live in MOST German cities. The situation isn’t as hostile as one would think.

  11. I am an American Jew who has resided in western Germany for more than two years. Based on my experience, I strongly disagree with Frau Knobloch. No, the rank and file population here didn’t support Israel in the recent conflict the way it did in the US. Yes, protest groups (and particularly those made up of Muslims) use inflamitory language on their anti-war signs. Yes, there have been a handful of cases of racist violence in the east of the country. None of these represent a generalized “hostile attitude” toward Isreal, much less toward Jews on the whole. Anyone suggesting that the NPD (or other neo-facists) wield any kind of power here needs to sit down and take a deep breath.

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