German TV: How anti-Semitic is Germany?

Documentary shows the commonality between anti-Israel legislative initiatives from Green Party and neo-Nazi NPD party.

November 3, 2013 22:18
2 minute read.
Berlin anti Israel rally

Berlin anti Israel rally 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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BERLIN – The German public television station ARD broadcasted last week a documentary film about modern anti-Semitism at the heart of German society.

Close observers of contemporary anti-Semitism showered praise on the film for not shying away from showing anti-Semitism in all walks of life in Germany.

The 50 minute film – titled Anti-Semitism Today: How hostile is Germany toward Jews? – was created by Ahmad Mansour, an Israeli Arab, and two other Germans, Kirsten Esch and Jo Goll. Mansour is a policy advisor to the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy. He has lived in Berlin since 2004 and studied Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University.

Writing in the main weekly German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, Michael Wuliger, said in his commentary titled “Focus on Reality” that the film clearly showed “examples of anti-Semitism from educated, well-meaning German citizens” who wave the moral finger at Jews.

Appearing in the film is Dr. Monika Schwarz-Friesel, a linguistics professor at the Technical University in Berlin, who investigated a combination of 14,000 letters and emails sent to the Israeli embassy and Jewish organizations. She said the majority of the anti-Semitic letters and emails came from “so-called mainstream society.” One letter from a man with a doctorate states, “Why are always again the Jews persecuted? You need to ask yourself that.”

He added, “By the next Holocaust the whining begins to start again. I am fed up with it.”

The film shows the commonality between anti-Israel legislative initiatives from the German Green Party and the neo-Nazi NPD party. Both parties seek to demarcate Israeli products from the disputed territories.

Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, slammed the disparate treatment targeting Israel as “absurd” in the film. With respect to the product labeling, he noted that there are “many different territorial disputes in the world and nowhere else is it [product labeling] done.”

He added that there is no effort by German politicians to label products from China because of its territorial dispute with Tibet. “The difference is there are 7 million Israelis and 1.3 billion Chinese,“ said Graumann.

The German Green Party politician Kerstin Müller – and the future head of the party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation office in Tel Aviv – defended the labeling of Israeli products. Müller denied knowing of the neo-Nazi initiative before submitting her party’s initiative in the Bundestag. She said that the buying of products from the settlements “destroys the idea of an independent Palestinian state.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Jerusalem and German Jews have criticized Müller for hostility toward Jews and being unfit to run the party’s Böll office.

The Böll Foundation in Berlin stands by Müller as a capable director.

The film appeared to break new ground, largely because it showed that hatred of Israel – the modern form of anti-Semitism – unifies many diverse groups in German society, including Islamists, mainstream Germans, left-wing Germans and rightwing extremists. Previous German documentaries focused on anti-Semitism from right-wing extremists.

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