(photo credit: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
BERLIN – Dr. Julius H. Schoeps, a distinguished German- Jewish historian
and a member of the Interior Ministry’s commission to fight anti-Semitism,
accused last week the majority of Bundestag deputies of not understanding
Jew-hatred and the importance of a regular legislative report on German
“Cluelessness” ran the headline of Schoeps’s essay about
the German deputies attitudes toward dealing with anti-Semitism on the front
page of the main German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine.
anti-Semites” among the legislators, he said, citing anti-Jewish comments from
parliamentarians in connection with the recent public debate about whether
circumcision should be legal in the country.
Marlene Rupprecht, a Social
Democratic deputy and chairwoman of the party’s children’s platform, said about
the anti-circumcision movement in Germany, “It can’t be dealt with by saying,
‘We had the Holocaust and therefore we are not allowed to criticize [Jews] for
centuries.’” Lala Süsskind, a former head of Berlin’s Jewish community, slammed
Rupprecht for “dumb” comments.
Bundestag deputies debated earlier this
month the findings of the Interior Ministry report “Anti-Semitism in Germany,”
and whether the commission should continue to function and additional reports
should be prepared.
In 2008, the Bundestag approved a resolution to
establish the nine-member commission, which went into effect in 2009. The panel
of experts falls under the umbrella of the Interior Ministry.
Stawski, who heads the pro-Israel NGO Honestly Concerned in Frankfurt, told The
Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “The criticism voiced by Julius Schoeps is right on
“When we – a network of NGOs – fought for the first report, we
never expected that a report would be the ultimate solution to combatting anti-Semitism in Germany,” Stawski said.
“We intended to create a tool by
which we could hold the Bundestag accountable for documenting this terrible
phenomenon in all its different forms – no matter whether from the Right, the
Left, Islamist or anti-Zionist; a phenomenon unfortunately prevalent among all
levels of society,” he said.
The report found that 15 percent of the
German population is anti-Semitic and more than 20 percent express “latent
anti-Semitism,” according to Schoeps.
Critics, however, see major gaps in
the document, including playing down the severity of contemporary German
Dr. Clemens Heni, who is not a member of the commission
and has published several books on modern German anti-Semitism, criticized
sections of the report for failing to examine “anti-Israel media coverage in
Spiegel-Online or on the television news show Tagesschau.”
failed to cite the “anti-Israel Bundestag resolution from July 1, 2010” singling
out Israel’s seizure of the Turkish-owned vessel Mavi Marmara, and the ship’s
attempt to break the naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip,” Heni
Two current Bundestag deputies from the Left Party, Annette Groth
and Inge Höger, were aboard the Mavi Marmara. The Bundestag voted unanimously to
blame Israel for the Gaza flotilla events.
Stawski said that “while most
Bundestag members have an easy time decrying concrete anti-Semitic attacks, few
understand or want to understand the depth of the problem and thus the
importance of going beyond empty, meaningless declarations decrying
anti-Semitism. This task needs financing, manpower and a lot of hard work in
close cooperation with civil society/NGOs, who understand the
Schoeps cited three deputies of the 620 in the Bundestag in
his essay as having grasped the importance of the commission’s work: Wolfgang
Thierse from the Social Democrats, Petra Pau of the Left Party, and Voker Beck
who represents the Green Party.
The Bundestag debate about the report and
the commission suggested that the vast majority of deputies believe the fight
against anti-Semitism should be the job of the Central Council of Jews in
Germany, Schoeps wrote. He sees the political view in the Bundestag as the main
problem, saying anti-Semitism is a societal problem affecting non-Jews – with
grave implications for Jews — and needs to be tackled by Germany’s non-Jewish