Herzog: Antisemitism is as ugly and as deadly as it used to be

"How is it that, more than 70 years after World War II and the Holocaust, Jews cannot walk safely on certain streets in European cities?" Herzog questioned in an op-ed for Germany's 'Bild.'

June 27, 2019 05:50
3 minute read.
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog speaks at the GC4I conference in Jerusalem, June 19

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog speaks at the GC4I conference in Jerusalem, June 19. (photo credit: MIRI SHIMONOVICH/GPO)


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Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog has called for people across the world to unite “hand in hand” against the scourge of antisemitism.

“Antisemitism, the scourge we had hoped would remain a bad memory from the past, is raising its head again,” Herzog wrote in an op-ed published in the German newspaper Bild. “It is as ugly and as deadly as it used to be.”

He questioned how shootings, vandalism, threats and other acts of antisemitism can still be happening after the Holocaust.

“How is it that more than 70 years after World War II and the Holocaust, Jews cannot walk safely, if they can be identified as Jews, on certain streets in European cities?” he asked. “How can this happen in an era which has seen the apogee of liberal democracy and the strengthening of human rights through international institutions?”

He also wondered how the world can explain that “Europe is more unsafe for Jews than it has ever been since the end of the Second World War, and that the US has witnessed the deadliest attack on Jews in its history?”

He hit back, saying that “these are, after all, countries where awareness and remembrance are enshrined in public action, by governments and civil society alike.” However, he did not blame “legislators and law enforcement,” making it clear that they have not neglected the fight against antisemitism and racism.

“Antisemitism thrives in the boundless anonymity of the net,” Herzog highlighted. “It blooms in the shadows of society, and it flourishes among the extremes, where it unites supremacists and conspiracists, anarchists and jihadists, revolutionists and fundamentalists, liars and deniers.”

According to Herzog, antisemitism “slithers its way” from “the outskirts of decent society into the mainstream,” adding that it’s at that point that “we need to sound the alarm and shout: ‘Stop! Never again!’ If the tools of the state seem to falter, we need to rely on the courage and the commitment of each and every person of goodwill, just as this newspaper has done, by calling on the individual responsibility of its readers through the cutout kippah initiative.”

He made it clear that it is up to each and every person individually to join in this fight.

“It will take a wide ensemble of good-willed people working in concert, each in their own circle, to push back the shadow of racism and antisemitism,” he said.

Quoting philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – who said, “What experience and history teach is this: that people have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it” – Herzog called on each and every person to prove him wrong.

“Let’s show that history’s lesson is well learned,” he concluded.

The op-ed was published just a day after Berlin’s antisemitism commissioner, Lorenz Kogel, repeated a warning that it is unsafe for Jewish people to wear a kippah in public, as they could face “attacks in public over and over again.”

The Algemeiner reported his comments on Tuesday, citing the Berliner Zeitung.

When asked if he would wear a kippah and walk in a Berlin neighborhood in which many Muslims live, Kogel refused to answer, saying he is not Jewish and should not offer advice to Jews.

He argued that in some Arab states “antisemitism is part of the state doctrine,” and ergo it is not surprising people “carry antisemitism with them when they come to Europe.”

He also maintained that in his view, the Al-Quds march in Berlin should be canceled.

The German government’s commissioner to combat antisemitism, Felix Klein, warned Jews in May that it is not always safe to wear the traditional head cover in Germany.

“I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippot everywhere all the time in Germany,” Klein told the Fuke media group, sparking a debate about Jewish security in Germany.

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